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EPISCOPAL DIVINITY SCHOOL 



Thesis/Project 



TRUST IS A QUEER THING 



BY 



REV. NANCY L. WILSON 
March 2011 



B.A. Allegheny College, Meadville, Pennsylvania, 1972 
M.Div. Saints Cyril and Methodius Seminary, Orchard Lake, Michigan, 1980 



Submitted in partial fulfillment of the 

requirements for the degree of 

DOCTOR OF MINISTRY 

May 2011 



© Copyright by 

REV. NANCY L. WILSON 

2011 



Approved By 



Supervisory 





* 



The Rev. Dr. William Kondrath, 
William Lawrence Professor of Pastoral Theology 



Reader 



yp-^^ hp_ 




The Rev. Dr. M. Joan Martin 
William W. Rankin Associate Professor of Christian Social Ethics 



DEDICATION 
I dedicate this doctoral project to three people: 

• To Connie Meadows, my "Baruch," for your friendship, encouragement, patience 
and skill; for being there for me in the beginning of my adventure as Moderator of 
MCC, and for being so consistent and committed; for your leadership behind the 
scenes; and 

• To Rev. Elder Don Eastman, wonderful example of a "level 5 leader," a truly 
"renewable resource," whose mentoring and companionship over nearly four 
decades have blessed me more than you will ever know; and 

• To the next and trustworthy Moderator of MCC. 



IV 



TRUST IS A QUEER THING 
TABLE OF CONTENTS 



DEDICATION iv 

TABLE OF CONTENTS v 

PREFACE viii 

CHAPTER ONE - INTRODUCTION 1 

CHAPTER TWO - ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND TRUST 22 

CHAPTER THREE - QUEERING TRUST THEOLOGICALLY 53 

CHAPTER FOUR - THE PRACTICE OF BECOMING/CREATING 93 

TRUSTWORTHY LEADERS IN METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY 

CHURCH 

CONCLUSIONS 124 

ADDENDUM A - COMMENTS FROM MEMBERS OF THE 20 1 130 
LEADERSHIP MENTORING RETREAT 

ADDENDUM B - LEADERSHIP MENTORING RETREAT JANUARY 17- 133 
20,2011 SCHEDULE 

BIBLIOGRAPHY 136 



TRUST IS A QUEER THING 
PREFACE 

People choose to take a course of study, finish a degree, for many reasons. For me, this 
project comes towards the culmination of a lifetime of ministry, not the beginning, or even the 
middle. This project will not improve my job prospects. But it blessed and impacted me, and our 
denomination. 

I choose to do this because I needed to push myself, and be pushed, to help Metropolitan 
Community Churches to face its needs for trustworthy leadership for this still new century. The 
opportunity to reflect on MCC's history, the meaning of our movement, and to document our 
new work in leadership development, has been worthwhile. MCC is still transitioning from our 

i 

founding generation, and it has been useful to try to understand that in our context. The project 
itself impacted key decisions in MCC's life that will be of benefit for a long while to come. 

The decision to do a DMin program also was made as a leadership group in MCC, and 
although that didn't quite work out as we had planned, it did tap into a lifelong goal of mine, and, 
I hope, encourage others in MCC to consider going back to school. 

I am grateful to the faculty and staff of Episcopal Divinity School, especially Dr. Bill 
Kondrath, for your unfailing support and excellent guidance. I loved every course I took. It was 
the course on "The History of English Spirituality," from Dr. Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook, that I 
thought might be the least relevant to my project. But, it gave me a valuable chance, as a former 
United Methodist myself, to come to know Charles Wesley, and to compare his experience in 
founding an "upstart denomination" with our experience in MCC. 

I use "LGBT" as shorthand for "lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender," as that is the 
standard MCC uses in all its publications, and is the most current usage. Sometimes I just use 
vi 



"queer," which has a more fluid meaning, and more political nuance. When I was speaking of 40 
years ago, I often use "gay," as that was the usage then, and, more often than not it really did 
mean "gay men," or maybe, "gay men and lesbians." 

A huge thank you to my partner Paula Schoenwether, family and friends for their 
forbearance and loving-kindness with all the time and energy it took to do this. Thank you, 
Connie Meadows, assistant and friend, for your faithfulness and technical help, and for helping 
me balance tasks, information, and workload while also being in school! And, thanks for those 
who supported me with resources and housing, and countless other means of support. 

I offer a special thanks to the faculty and participants, thus far, of the MCC Leadership 
Mentoring Retreat, may it bear much fruit! 
Rev. Nancy Wilson, March 20 1 1 



VII 



CHAPTER ONE 
INTRODUCTION 

Trust is the key to the success of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) as a 
denomination and a movement. There are so many things MCC needs in order to 
succeed, but I am convinced that trust and trustworthy leadership is not just a key, but the 
key. 

Exploring the concept of trust from the viewpoint of experts in organizational 
development, business, and theology will be central to this project. Using those resources, 
I will then offer a review of recent developments in MCC as an organization, including 
our first two Leadership Mentoring Retreats. I will test key theories about trust with 
MCC leaders and members. Finally, all of this will be used to develop a Leadership 
Covenant for our denomination, based on these understandings of trust. 

Trust is a familiar concept about which people make a lot of assumptions, whether 
about trust in God, self, neighbor, reality, or the world. There are myths and 
misconceptions about what trust is, and its role in human life, including the corporate, 
public, private, and religious dimensions. 1 Trust must be considered in a theological, 
organizational, sociological and psychological matrix. It must be understood as a process 
and a product; as both a mystery and as something quite understandable and teachable. 
Trustworthiness is essential to leadership in the post-modern, twenty- first century 
world. According to one business consultant turned ethicist, "Trust is not an emotion, 



Stephen M. R. Covey, The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything (New York: Free 
Press, 2006), 25. This is an excellent chart of myths and truths about trust. 

1 



rather, "trust is the framework within which emotions appear. . ..Without trust there can 
be no cooperation, no community, no commerce, no conversation.... (Trust is not a) warm 
fuzzy feeling.. .it is a strength, a precondition of any alliance or mutual understanding." 
Trust is necessary for peacemaking, and for solving pressing global problems. Today, 
even more than a few years ago, trust is in the headlines. Or, rather, mistrust in banks, 
financial institutions, politicians, religious leaders and organizations. 

One of the clearest examples of the problem of trust is the Roman Catholic 
Church hierarchy's mishandling of the priest sexual abuse scandal. The revelations of 
widespread sexual abuse of children in the care of the Catholic Church were horrific 
enough, but the disgraceful role the Catholic hierarchy played in covering up and 
minimizing the scandal, intensified the mistrust of Catholic laity. Insensitivity to the 
victims, and wrongly blaming homosexual priests, have only magnified the problem. This 
is a story above all of a crisis of trust, credibility, and accountability. It is the "Watergate" 
lesson that individuals and organizations seem never to learn: that cover-up only makes 
the original violation of trust much, much worse. This is a uniquely Roman Catholic 
problem in some ways, but, in others, it is illustrative of so much of what is wrong with 
the church and trust, and a sign of enormous need for change. 
Metropolitan Community Church's Mission 

Metropolitan Community Church's "missio dei," the mission of God that MCC is 
privileged to participate in, is to "tear down walls and build up hope." That mission 



Robert C. Solomon, "Ethical Leadership, Emotions and Trust: Beyond 'Charisma,'" from Ethics, the 
Heart of Leadership ed. By Joanne B. Ciulla, Second Edition (Westport, Conn: Praeger), 95. 
For MCC's mission statement, and core values see www.mccchurch.org. 



requires creation and restoration of trust. MCC is a movement that facilitates new or 
renewed trust in God, self and a wider community, for queer people and all people who 
have experienced betrayal and broken trust. 

Queer people, our families, friends and allies, have had hearts and trust broken by 
family, church and the wider culture. Our bodies, sexuality, relationships and identities 
have been colonized, stigmatized, outlawed, persecuted and excluded. Most queer 
people internalize the language and framework of the oppressor just to survive. We have 
the kind of doubled-consciousness 4 similar to that racial minorities acquire in order to 
live in two or more cultures, one of which dominates and oppresses the other. 

Queer children learn from an early age not to trust. We are taught that our 
feelings are not to be trusted; and that our erotic desires and impulses are abnormal or 
evil. Because our sexuality may often be different from the sexuality of our immediate 
family members, we learn to suppress our differences in our own homes. We are taught 
that we cannot trust God to love us or accept us; and that we cannot trust the religious 
communities we grew up in as young people. 

Queer people, historically, and in most cultures, have had to lie and to choose 
between high risk behavior or living in terrible isolation and suppression of desires. 
Through more than thirty-five years in pastoral ministry, I have ministered with gay 
people who felt they could never risk having sex or any intimate friendships; and people 
who lived with their parents their whole lives, in a kind of feudal system of servitude and 



4 W.E.B. DuBois the classic book, The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches. Chicago: A.C.McClurg 
Co., 190, developed the theory of "double-consciousness" in African Americans, who had to internalize the 
consciousness of the white world as well as of the African American world to survive. 



silence. I pastored people who suffered lobotomies, electric shock therapy; who were 
arrested, imprisoned, and incarcerated in mental hospitals, for thinking they were gay, or 
being thought to be gay. I ministered to people who were bullied, beaten, and attacked, 
sometimes for years, for being thought to be gay, as children. 

When I first came to MCC, I met a same-sex couple who lived their whole lives 
together, for more than forty years, never before daring to tell someone they were gay. I 
did a holy union for a woman judge and her partner who could not risk telling me their 
last names. I have heard the stories of young people who have set themselves on fire, 
plowed their cars into trees, jumped off bridges, or commit suicide other ways because 
they could trust no one, least of all God. 

Meanwhile, all over the globe, today, communities of queer people strive for 
human and civil rights, political freedom, and respect as human beings. They long for a 
place, a spiritual home, to be able to trust. They see pride parades in the West, or a 
"Would Jesus Discriminate?" 5 campaign on the internet. They start to believe that they 
deserve freedom and safe space. 

In December of 2005, 1 sat in a restaurant listening for four hours to a young 
Jamaican gay activist tell of the horror stories of lethal homophobic violence in his 
country. His roommate and best friend had been murdered recently, along with dozens of 
friends and acquaintances. When I asked him what he needed most (asylum, funds for his 
very vulnerable gay rights organization, political or moral support), he replied, "We need 



5 Would Jesus Discriminate? is a public information campaign produced locally, and also operates virally 
on the internet, sponsored by Metropolitan Community Churches, www.wouldjesusdiscriminate.com. 



a spiritual community." This young man had the maturity to know that in order to survive 

and thrive in this long struggle, his people needed to have hope. 

In the early years in the gay rights movement in the United States, when Anita 

Bryant was raging, when Harvey Milk was murdered, we would stand in circles in tacky 

gay bars in large and small cities, singing, "United we stand, divided we fall, and if our 

backs should ever be against a wall, we'll be together, together you and I. Lesbians 

gathered anywhere we could to hear Meg Christian singing, "The way back home to me 

was the road I took to you." 

We sat through endless drag shows in the early days when it was not necessarily 

Judy Garland's "Over the Rainbow," but, "Somewhere," from the musical West Side 

Story, that expressed our longing: 

There's a place for us, somewhere a place for us, 

Peace and quiet and open air, 

Wait for us, somewhere. . . 

Someday, somewhere, we'll find a new way of living, 

We'll find a way of forgiving, 

o 

Somewhere. 

In the earliest days of our civil rights movement, and the beginnings of MCC, we had a 
choice, and we made it. We chose to trust — in God, in each other, in ourselves, in the 
"moral arc of the universe" — in order to move the mountains of hate, prejudice and 



6 Dudley Clendine and Adam Nagourney, Out For Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in 
America (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1999), 187. 

7 Meg Christian, "The Road I Took to You," from album, The Best of Meg Christian, Olivia Records. 

8 Leonard Bernstein, "Somewhere," from the musical West Side Story, 1957. 

9 Many attribute this to M. L. King, Jr., but he was quoting abolitionist Theodore Parker, c. 1850's, as 
quoted in the dedication page of Kevin Boyle's Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in 
The Jazz Age (New York: Henry Holt and Company), 2004. 



ignorance that oppressed us. One of the songs we have sung so often in MCC reflects that 

journey of trust: 

I will change your name; 
You shall no longer be called 
Wounded, outcast, 
Lonely or afraid. 
I will change your name, 
Your new name shall be 
Confidence, Joyfulness, 
Overcoming One; 
Faithfulness, friend of God, 
One who seeks my face! 

MCC is one of the institutions in the LGBT movement for civil rights that has 
survived and thrived for over forty years. We have also failed. Success includes failure. I 
want to understand the success and the failure, in terms of trust and trustworthiness. As 
with any human institution, our reality does not always match our rhetoric, and there are 
consequences. 

Today, MCC is needed all over the globe. We are a post-colonial and post- 
denominational denomination. We are as much movement as we are institution. We are 
attempting to harness the "imaginative power" of emerging Queer theology and 
practice. 11 We must be agents of trust and trustworthiness as we attempt to tear down 
walls of hatred and oppression; and give reason for people to hope that their cries for 
justice, respect, human rights, and spiritual community will be heard and answered. 



10 D. J Butler, "I Will Change Your Name," Mercy Publishing, October 1987. 
1 Mark Jordan, lecture on "Queer Incarnation" June 2008, Episcopal Divinity School. 



Context of Metropolitan Community Churches 

Our story starts with the story of one person, Rev. Troy Perry. After a long period 
of soul-searching, and coming out, on October 6, 1968 before the Stonewall Riots in New 
York, he held the first MCC service in his living room in Huntington Park, California, 
with twelve people and an offering of $3.12. 

In the years just prior to founding MCC, Troy Perry came out to his Church of 
God of Prophecy overseer. He lost his wife, two young children, his job and his clergy 
credentials. At one point, he tried to kill himself, which began a process of spiritual 
awakening, in which he made a powerful, singular, amazing decision: to trust himself to 
the God who had created him. Troy came to trust that his homosexuality was not a sin 
or a barrier to God or to ministry. 

One of the old songs of the church became an instant favorite, reflecting that 

passion and sensibility: 

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! 
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine, 
Heir of salvation, purchase of God, 

• • 1 ? 

Born of his spirit, washed in his blood 

In the early 1970's, more than five hundred people would sing this song in a 
rented theater in downtown Los Angeles, people from every background, race and class. 
These were people who never imagined they would step foot in a church. Rev. Willie 
Smith, in his "camp" way, trying to mold this rag tag group of people into a singing 



1 9 

Fanny Crosby, "Blessed Assurance," New Century Hymnal, Cleveland, Ohio: Pilgrim Press, 1995, #473. 
13 "Camp" is a queer term for exaggerated, dramatic gestures, affectations, impersonations. Willie often 
seemed to be impersonating "Sister" Aimee Semple MacPherson, a colorful Los Angeles religious 
antecedent who some think was either queer herself, or sheltered many in her church. 



congregation, like the one he grew up in as a Seventh Day Adventist, and would shout 

out, "Alright, queens, on your feet for Jesus!" 

This is my story, this is my song, 
Praising my Savior, all the day long, 
This is my story, this is my song, 
Praising my Savior, all the day long. 14 

Decades of pastoral ministry in MCC can be summarized as helping people to 

learn to trust themselves, who they are, and who they love; helping them to dare to 

trust God again. 

MCC has also betrayed trust. When people join MCC, I warn them. For many 
people, trust is an "all or nothing" proposition. When people have been so hurt by 
families, and the church, and have been away a long time, and then return to the church, 
they sometimes romanticize and idealize it. They believe that if their previous church had 
hurt them, MCC would never do that! It is important for people come to a more realistic 
picture of MCC as a human organization that can be more functional sometimes than 
others, that can fail and also betray one's trust. Healing, learning, repentance, 
reconciliation, forgiveness and restoration are possible and necessary. 

MCC as an organization, as a movement, has, at times, succeeded, and at other 
times failed to be trustworthy. If we can learn from the successes and the failures, and 
understand the nature of creating, sustaining and restoring trust, we can be the kind of 
church that can transform lives and history. 



14 Crosby, #473. 



A Brief Summary of Metropolitan Community Church's History: 

When I became Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches in 2005, 1 
began to think about MCC's history in three phases: the gay church, the church with 
ADDS, and the Human Rights Church. It is important to understand that even though 
MCC's history is only a brief forty-two years, there has been a different "task of trust" in 
each era. 
The Gay Church 

The first phase is "the Gay Church," which includes the years from 1968 to 1983. 
This was the time of wild, unsustainable growth, when word of MCC was spreading 
primarily in North America. With few resources, MCC blessed leaders and groups with 
only the brand name and prayers. Great sacrifices were made. MCC was very 
"countercultural," still below the radar. We were the vanguard of an alternative, 
progressive vision of a radically inclusive church that embraced sexual minorities, 
particularly, but not exclusively. Lisa Isherwood declares that for queer folk, "in terms of 
the Church an alternate ecclesiology needs to be visible." 15 

MCC embodied that alternative ecclesiology. We were a church founded by an 
openly gay person, one of the first open, "indigenous" gay churches, and the only one 
that became a global movement. 1 That new queer ecclesiology was evident every 
Sunday as liturgies were created and sermons preached, and weddings and funerals were 



15 Lisa Isherwood, "Queering Christ: Outrageous Acts and Theological Rebellions," Literature & Theology 
15/3 (2001), 252. 

16 The Church of the Beloved Disciple, Old Catholic Churches, antecedents from the 1940's and 50's such 
as the First Church of Deliverance (Spiritualist) in Chicago, were also "gay" churches, though they never 
got much traction, and were often closeted. 



performed. MCC unapologetically mixed politics and religion, and was the "only game 
in town," if you did not want to be closeted and Christian. 

It was more "gay" than "gay and lesbian," or LGBT. For men, there was the 
seventies club scene, sexual freedom, the beginnings of a political movement. Lesbians 
were torn between the women's movement and the gay movement. Women were still 
struggling just to get into seminaries as women, much less as lesbians. MCC members 
were mostly young, working class or poor. 

The "trust task" for this era in our church's life was solidarity with the emerging, 
young, even outlawed gay community. It was to preach that "gay is good," in the way 
that African Americans had embraced the notion that "Black is beautiful." This is a task 
for which Troy Perry's leadership style and personality were uniquely suited. He 

1 -7 

embodied a kind of new spiritual self-esteem that was unshakeable and confident. ; 

The "task" was also to connect gay people to church, to God, to the gospel 
message of unconditional love. This meant speaking to the Church Universal, to 
governments, to the mental health establishment, to say, "Let My People Go!" People in 
MCC learned to trust their leaders, pastors, their preaching and teaching, and to admire 
them for taking risks, putting their lives on the line. 

On the one hand, MCC tried to embody the assimilationist model: that we were 
church-like-anybody-else but that just happened to have a lot of gay people. Many LGBT 
folks saw the purpose of our movement as equality, more than creating a new kind of 



17 William Kondrath, "Transitioning from Charismatic Founder to the Next Generation, "Journal of 
Religious Leadership, Vol 9. No.l, Spring 2010, 84. Kondrath says Perry is a typical "Weberian" 
charismatic founder, "who is viewed by her or his followers as deserving nearly absolute trust." I will deal 
with this more in a later chapter. 

10 



society. For some, the task was simply to be able to have the same rights as anyone else 
to housing, jobs, education, marriage, family rights, healthcare, religion, etc. 

On the other hand, MCC was quite gay acculturated, really rooted in gay 
language, coming from a place of resistance, from the very beginning. Gay slang, 
references, abounded in the worship services. Many saw "gay lib" as a part of the sexual 
revolution of the 60' s, the "free love" movement that eschewed monogamy, or 
"traditional values." There were clashes, from the beginning between those who lean 
toward assimilationist goals, and those who are more queer, in their view of our 
movement and MCC. Established gay couples, leading very ordinary lives, in the closet, 
began to find the church. They did not see themselves in any way as part of a sexual 
revolution! They just wanted to live their lives, which they saw as simply parallel to their 
straight neighbors, unmolested. 

Politically, today, this is manifested in the U.S. in the differences between The 
Human Rights Campaign, which is more assimilationist; and the National Gay and 
Lesbian Task Force, which creates queer alignment with progressive politics, critiques 
racism and classism in our movement. MCC has a strong partnership relationship with 
both organizations. 

The "gay lib" movement was founded by many who were not religious, or not 
Christian. There was a strong gay left which despised religion. Lesbian feminist 
separatists wouldn't be caught dead going to church, and were suspicious of lesbians who 
did. Lesbians like me felt we were being asked to apologize for our associations with 
church. Lesbians and gay men had separate bars and social spaces, and did not mingle a 

11 



great deal, even politically. MCC was one of the exceptions, where men and women did 
work together, worship together, and become friends. 

Men and women in MCC did learn to love and trust each other, but it was often 
tenuous, with women feeling like outsiders, having to really fight to be recognized as 
leaders. Women and men in MCC had a mix of the assimilationist and queer vision, but 
could feel pushed one way or the other, depending on the issue. For instance, when AIDS 
was first spreading through the community, and we understood it to be a sexually 
transmitted disease, with no cure at all, there was a movement to close all of the bath 
houses in major US cities that catered to gay men. Some in the community saw this as a 
threat to civil liberties, to the "queer" sexual values that characterized the community. In 
the shock and chaos caused by AIDS, there was grief and loss over the very brief period 
of what were the creation of gay male sexual playgrounds in major cities, a sign of our 
freedom and fearlessness. 

Others saw closing the bath houses as a public health necessity, pure and simple. 
In general, MCC was on the side of those supporting the closing of the baths. We wanted 
to be positioned publicly as doing everything we could to save lives. It was threatening, 
and stigmatizing to have the excesses of gay male liberations a la drugs and sex in such 
plain view of a wider public. For the first few years of AIDS, it felt like all the progress 
we had made in public perception and acceptance was being destroyed by a sexually 
transmitted disease. Lesbians had to bear a lot of the brunt of this stigma, as well, though 
they had little connection, for the most part, to the bathhouse scenes of the 1970's and 
early 1980's. 

12 



We also struggled a lot with boundary issues, long before mainstream churches 
were dealing openly with these issues and questions. MCC's queer social location made 
us reluctant to set up rules, or even guidelines for behavior, including sexual behavior. 
This was before AIDS, before we understood much about sexual addiction. We were not 
careful about screening clergy or lay leaders, and assumed that people who were kicked 
out of previous churches were kicked out just because they were gay — not always true! 
This caused problems, damage to individuals, and in some cases, to our brand. It was 
certainly problematic for people who were very vulnerable, and may have survived abuse 
in other church settings. 

Early on MCC came out very strongly with a no tolerance policy about adult/child 
sexual contact, long before other churches were as explicit. This was done in part to 
contradict the myth of gays as child molesters. We also developed clear, written codes of 
conduct for clergy and lay leaders, and do not tolerate predatory or abusive behavior in 
our leaders. 

We were entrepreneurial in the extreme in that first decade or so, and, often 
lacked systems or structures to support long-term growth. This led to credibility 
problems. We started projects that we did not complete, we seemed to run from pillar to 
post, not clear about our priorities. Everything was important; there were constant crises, 
even before AIDS, that strained our organization. Most people in leadership, in the first 
fifteen years or more, wore two or three hats. MCC as a denomination had very few 
fulltime employees, everyone did double-duty. This meant we often had a lack of 
professional staff, and of focus. Mistakes were made that were costly. Local churches 

13 



often scratched their heads, wondered what we were doing on a denominational level. Of 
course, they were dealing with the same issues as well! 

And we were very white. I remember hearing white members of MCC, 
defensively, saying that "they" (people of color, mostly African Americans) "have their 
own churches," and though MCC welcomed everyone, we should not worry about it 
when not "everyone" showed up or stayed. It took decades for MCC to articulate its own 
struggles with racism, to make real room for people of color, in the pew and in 
leadership, and to critique the white cultural hegemony of MCC. It is a struggle that is 
not over, and still requires vigilance and investment of resources and commitment. 

The 1970's was also the era of persecution. Dozens of MCC churches and 
meeting places were destroyed by arson. In June, 1973, as they did every Sunday 
afternoon, MCCer's in New Orleans gathered in a bar, the Upstairs Lounge, after church. 
The place was arsoned, and thirty two people died, including the pastor and assistant 

1 o 

pastor, and dozens of our members. Churches were vandalized, and one pastor was 
murdered. 19 MCC Los Angeles, the first MCC Church, and the first institution in the gay 
community to own property, lost its church to arson in January of 1973. Death threats, 
and threats of violence to local MCC churches, pastors and at every General Conference 



18 Clendinine and Nagourney, 174-187. 

19 Troy Perry, Don't be Afraid Anymore (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1990). Rev. Virgil Scott was the 
pastor of our church in Stockton, California, and was brutally murdered by someone who called him up 
looking for counseling. 

20 Clendinine and Nagourney, 181 . 

14 



were commonplace. MCC leadership was security conscious at every public gathering 

? 1 

and event. 

MCC positioned itself as the church of the gay community. We gave birth to, or 
inspired the birth of other institutions, including a synagogue and many other churches 
and religious movements. Often, people who were coming out came first to the church, 
looking for community, friendship and something familiar in which to navigate the 
unfamiliar. It was where they got connected. 

Being the church of the gay community sometimes made it harder to be a 
prophetic voice of critique of "gay culture." Sometimes MCC churches were the only 
institution with a meeting space in the gay community in a city or town (this is still true 
today), and were the community center. Other times the church set itself apart from the 
community, shielding and sheltering itself, sometimes under the veil of "we are the nice 
gay people who go to church, not 'bar people."' 

When MCC was simply the church that blessed gay culture, it became hard to 
address issues of race or class, or sexism. All of our churches and pastors have felt like at 
times they had to turn a blind eye to some activity or practice that seemed over the top, 
not healthy or ethical. In the early days, the Mafia owned every gay bar in major cities. It 
made "bar ministry" complicated, at times, when you knew who you were supporting. 
The only entrepreneurs, in the early days, that would write big checks to gay 
organizations were owners of bars, bathhouses, and pornography producers. Church 



71 

John Shelby Spong, Here I Stand: My Struggle for a Christianity of Integrity, Love and Equality (San 
Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 390-391, an interesting account of an Episcopal Bishop's encounter 
with our security concerns. 

15 



newsletters and bulletins in MCC in the 70 's advertised gay businesses that were not 
necessarily "respectable." We have come from being marginal, outlawed, sometimes in 
the company of people with criminal associations, to eschewing that kind of association. 

Sometimes it became necessary to challenge business people in our community 
who owned establishments (mostly bars) that discriminated on the basis of race, and even 
picket them. Or to confront businesses that supported the exploitation of young people. 

When I was pastor of MCC Los Angeles, we were right across the street from a 
notorious restaurant/bar that catered to older men who wanted to pick up very young, 
sometimes underage, hustlers. The waiters functioned as the "go betweens," sort of like 
pimps who would set up the patrons and the young kids from the street. MCC Los 
Angeles ran a youth drop-in center just blocks away, and when I tried to get the City of 
West Hollywood to deal with this illegal activity that was doing damage to kids we were 
trying to help, they pretended to not know what was going on. Some of the patrons were 
major campaign contributors to key city officials. Those kids were not important enough 
to disrupt this system. I could never get the city or Sheriffs Department to take this 
problem seriously. 

Raising issues of health and addiction were not always welcome contributions. 
Some labeled MCC as "Puritans" or as moralizing. Sometimes it was seen as an issue 
between lesbians and gay men. 

Then, in the early 1980's AIDS changed everything. 



99 

The name of the establishment was "Numbers," after a graphic gay novel about hustlers by John Rechy, 
give me a break! 

16 



The Church With AIDS 

AIDS hit, and hit MCC hard. 23 Fortunately, there were enough churches in at least 
the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia that could do the dual work of 
caring for the sick and dying while becoming much more political. We worked with 
ACT-UP, got arrested, created new institutions and alliances. MCC plunged into AIDS 
work courageously, preached sermons that proclaimed "God is Greater Than AIDS!" 
The women who stayed and the men who did not die worked together as if there was not 
this huge cultural gulf between them. AIDS was no respecter of persons, and "outed" 
people of every class, including celebrities. 

The "trust task" of this era was solidarity with people living and dying with 
AIDS, their friends, families and communities. It was about creating safe, public space 
for young people who were ill, vulnerable, and stigmatized, especially by religion. The 
task was to be trustworthy spiritual leaders; to deal with the shame, homophobia, sex 
phobia and AIDS phobia; to be on the front lines and vulnerable with the activists; and to 
never give up or give in to hopelessness. Our task became to be relentlessly courageous, 
compassionate, practical and hopeful in the midst of fear and despair: to become the 
Church with AIDS. 

AIDS was all consuming. It consumed about twenty-five percent of MCC's 
membership, about thirty percent of the clergy (at least half the male clergy). It consumed 
much of a generation of gay men my own age, whose presence is still missed so much. It 
pushed MCC to the wall. Many other institutional, organizational issues had to be put on 



For an historical account and documentation of this, see Joshua L. Love, Uncommon Hope (Trafford 
Publishing, 2009). 

17 



hold. We had to deal with death, eternal life, healing and faith. We had to learn how to 
live in perpetual, never-ending grief and continuing to minister and grow. It became the 
lens through which many came to see all of reality. MCC incarnated hope and solidarity 
by calling ourselves "The Church with AIDS," a powerful alternative ecclesiology. The 
Body of Christ had AIDS, and MCC was the visible reminder. 

One of the things that is amazing about these years (about 1983 to 2000), is that it 
never once occurred to the leaders of MCC that it could collapse, die or fail. MCC was 
only fourteen years old, a small, young, barely viable institution when AIDS hit. MCC 
was actually bigger and stronger, in some ways, by the time it ended, though the negative 
impact is still being felt. When the protease inhibitors began to work, and the dying 
slowed to a trickle (in the West), MCC went into a kind of post-traumatic shock as an 
organization. Some of our churches did as well. Some froze and died. The exhaustion 
was palpable. 

This was probably the time MCC was in the most danger, and still couldn't afford 
to know it. For several years, there was little willingness to do much of anything new 
about AIDS; and those with AIDS, who struggled to take new and sometimes harsh 
medications, wondered what had happened to MCC's zeal and activism. We learned the 
term, "compassion fatigue," and knew we had it. There were voices clamoring about the 
need for new "leadership" and "vision." Then in 1999 Troy announced his resignation as 
Moderator of MCC in six years. A few years after that, after years of conflict, our largest 
and wealthiest church left MCC, and eventually joined the United Church of Christ. 
Bottom line, they didn't believe MCC would thrive in the aftermath of AIDS and 

18 



leadership transition. It needed to cling to a stronger, wealthier, more middle class 
lifeboat. They left. MCC survived. But, no question, it shook us. 

The Church with AIDS is still needed, in a time where we are losing ground in 
prevention and treatment, especially in Africa, in Eastern Europe, and in Washington, 
D.C. There are people who will come to know the radically inclusive message we preach 
because they have HIV/AIDS, and no church in their country will welcome them, or 
reach out to so many who are living and dying with HIY/AEDS. Our unique history with 
HIV/ AIDS positions us, and gives us the mandate to continue to be in solidarity. 
The Human Rights Church 

As the new millennium dawned, the world was changing and decentralizing. The 
Web and the internet and virtual technology radically changed cultures and 
communications. MCC went through leadership changes and moved into a new structure 
meant to help MCC survive the founder's retirement. 

Our new global structure tried to correct a myopic, Western, colonial, U.S. -centric 
world view and organizational model for MCC. It simply flattened the world into eight 
Regions, with more or less equal resources to do the work. Immediately, in a post 9/1 1 
world, MCC had to begin to wrestle with a changing world economy, and struggle to 
financially resource a truly global movement. 

Because of this new structure and leadership, MCC began doing work in Eastern 
Europe, and we were given the label "The Human Rights Church," by activists there. 
MCC jumped into the middle of the religiously-based homophobia standing in the way of 
human rights for LGBT people in many countries. We made common cause there with 

19 



those with disabilities, and women struggling for reproductive freedom. We were the 
only church willing to express solidarity with a young, new movement of queer, spiritual 
and human rights activists. 

This human rights and justice emphasis is the new, third era in MCC's forty- two 
year history. The "trust task" is to deal with being an authentic, spiritual, courageous 
global queer spiritual movement in a world of economic and political injustice created by 
the remnants of colonialism and its ally, "global capitalism." 

MCC must be trustworthy partners with human rights organizations who may be 
suspicious of religious groups. Balancing the re-invention and sustainability of MCC in 
North America with the needs of an emerging global "market" is a major task. MCC must 
remain true to our identity and legacy. We must continue to find ways to do whatever it 
takes to strengthen our movement for the generations to come. There are hundreds of 
smaller cities all over North America that need an MCC church, center or presence that 
do not have one today. 

Today, MCC is deeply involved with exploding, young queer, spiritual, activist 
communities in Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Uganda, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, 
Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Pakistan, Iceland, Brazil and all over Latin 
America, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, and Kazakhstan. The North and 
the West are aging, which MCC reflects in those places. But the Global South and East 
are young, and getting younger. This is where MCC's destiny and future lies, in the 
intersection of our human rights mission and establishing and nurturing new communities 
of faith globally. 

20 



Depending on the context, MCC will continue to be the Gay Church, the Church 
with AIDS, and the Human Rights Church. What kind of leadership ethos, leadership 
training, theology of trustworthy leadership will help MCC adapt to the demands and 
opportunities to be this emerging, ecumenical church in the 21 st century? This is the 
question I hope to answer in this project. 



21 



CHAPTER TWO 
ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND TRUST 

In his ground breaking speech to the Muslim world, from Cairo, Egypt, the 
President of the United States, Barack Obama, set about addressing and correcting "years 
of mistrust." 1 Distilling our problems with the Muslim world that way was a powerful 
articulation that opened up history in that moment. The President was signaling that trust, 
in all its simplicity and complexity, is the major human challenge of the 21 st century as 
we pursue peace. 

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, says, in The World is Flat: 

Without trust, there is no open society, because there are not enough 
police to patrol every opening in an open society. Without trust there can 
also be no flat world, because it is trust that allows us to take down walls, 
remove barriers, and eliminate friction at borders. Trust is essential for a 
flat world. 

Theologian of hope Jurgen Moltmann reminds us that: 

The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the 
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), 
as well as the Earth Charter (1992) provide the internationally recognized 
basis for trust among the countries of the United Nations. 

For a church that sees its mission as "tearing down walls and building up hope," 

and which has global ambitions, these are powerful messages. In recent history, we have 

seen the flouting of the Geneva Conventions, which threatens that fragile, global trust. 



Barack Obama's speech to the Muslim World in Cairo, the New York Times, 
www.nytimes.com/2009/06/04obama.text.html? r=l (Accessed February 23, 201 1) 

2 Thomas Friedman, The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty First Century (New York: Farrar, 
Straus and Giroux, 2005), 394. 

3 Jurgen Moltmann, "Control is Good - Trust is Better; Freedom and Security in a 'Free World.'" Theology 
Today, 62 No 4 (Ja 2006), 468. 

22 



Nations that flagrantly disregard these agreements says Moltmann, "lose trustworthiness 
among the nations and peoples." 4 What he does not say, is how much these agreements 
are needed because today's global economy has been created out of a terrible history of 
colonialism, economic and political oppression and wars. We are interdependent as 
never before, as the recent economic crisis has shown us. We need to find ways to trust, 
even with so much history of betrayal of trust. And, we must value being trustworthy 
more than being rich or powerful or in control. This is a word for nations, and for 
organizations. 

Mohammed Yunnus' account of creating a banking system based on trust 5 is a 
revolutionary example of a countercultural focus on trust. He had to convince bankers to 
lend very small amounts of capital and trust to the poorest of the poor, who had no 
collateral. 6 His theory was that the desperately poor would pay back the loans at a higher 
rate (it was 98%, astonishingly high) because they could not afford to not to be able to 
borrow again. The Grameen bank also decided to work on a basis of peer supervision 
and support of loan repayment, to make the loans really manageable, and to avoid large 
sum repayments. These methods, tailored to the needs and culture of the poorest, proved 

D 

very effective over time, engendering trust. In fact, "In contrast (to every other bank), 
Grameen assumes that every borrower is honest. There are no legal instruments between 
the lenders and the borrowers. We were convinced that the bank should be built on 



4 Ibid., 469. 

5 Mohammed Yunnus, Banker to the Poor: Micro-lending and the Battle Against World Poverty. ( Public 
Affairs, 2003). 

6 Ibid., 55-57. 

7 Ibid., 58. 

8 Ibid., 61-62. 

23 



human trust, not on meaningless paper contracts . . ..(and) our experience with bad debt is 
less than 1 percent." 9 

This system flies in the face of everything we have been taught to believe about 
money and lending and the purpose of banks. As the Grameen Bank helped the poorest 
women in the world, Yunnus came to believe that access to capital should be a basic 
human right. 10 His globally successful model proves that banking that is community 
based, and rooted in trust can be practical and successful. In fact, more than anything 
else, Yunnus sees himself as a teacher, empowering people to change their own lives. 11 
Through his profound discovery, trust won a Nobel Peace Prize, and the lives of millions 
of people have been changed forever. Commercial banks, today, are starting to lend to 
poor people for profit, because their record for repayment is superior to the record of the 
wealthy. 

The most eye-opening and discouraging thing about his book was his conviction 
that all the "aid" programs in the world simply end up creating dependency, generations 
of impoverishment and ultimately serve only to enrich the already rich corporations and 
governments. This has to be one of the great, under-documented scandals of the 20 
and 21 st centuries. Yunnus' contention that "poverty is not created by the poor.. .but by 

1 o 

the structures of society and the policies pursued by society," is a further demonstration 
that when mistrust is built into systems, it does not protect lives, but destroys them. 



9 Ibid., 70. 

10 Ibid., 247-253. 

11 Ibid., 103. 

12 Ibid., 140-146. 

13 Ibid., 205. 

24 



Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "our distrust is very expensive." 14 Whole industries 
(e.g., elaborate home and office security systems) have been created to make a profit on 
distrust. Agreements that were solemnized by a handshake just a century or two ago (or 
still are, in some cultures) require lawyers and contracts and are contested in courts, in 
long, expensive processes. The growing field of risk management is a testimony to the 
levels of mistrust that pervade business and organizations. Churches have had to 
dramatically change how they do business, and conform to new ways of doing things that 
challenge us in terms of our core values. 

Clearly, the Roman Catholic Church could have benefited from more appropriate 
risk management practices as the "good old boys'" methods of covering up for predatory 
clergy crashed under the weight of the cumulative evidence of criminal behavior. In 
some ways, those basic risk management practices are the lowest level of providing more 
trust in a system, and, of course, even they can end up simply being used to protect the 
perpetrators and their institutions. Restoring trust, for the Catholic hierarchy, goes way 
beyond having basic risk management and professional screening procedures: it would 
require deep, thorough, self-searching, in the leadership and in the institution itself. It 
would demand the humility to ask forgiveness, and to take transparent, corrective 
measures to protect children. It would require a sincere and deep look at the Church's 
distorted, patriarchal view of sexuality and spirituality, the equality of women and men, 
and what leadership in the 21 st century really demands. 



14 As cited in Stephen M. R. Covey and Rebecca R. Miller, The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That 
Changes Everything (New York, Simon & Schuster, 2006), 14. 

25 



The economist and philosopher Francis Fukuyama said, "Widespread distrust in a 
society. . . imposes a kind of tax on all forms of economic activity, a tax that high-trust 
societies do not have to pay." 15 The "trust tax" in our time seems to be getting steeper and 
steeper. 16 Low trust organizations are costly to operate, and are self-sabotaging. 

Despite the importance of trust in organizational life, in the literature on 
organizational development the subject of trust is mostly treated as an aspect, even a 
minor aspect, of organizational life. One example is a popular book called Virtual 
Teams, in which trust has just four pages in a chapter, towards the end, on values. There 
is only one book on the topic of business, organizations and trust that I could find, 
Covey's The Speed of Trust, not a scholarly work, but valuable for the creativity and 
synthesis of ideas. 
Definitions 

Definitions of trust are fascinating and a little slippery. Oftentimes, a definition is 

I o 

simply a synonym, like "confidence." One scholar writes that "trust is not static, it is 
dynamic, it is created." 19 

Margaret Wheatley writes eloquently about trust and organizations, saying that in 
"trusting life to organize itself," we benefit if we "give up the role of master creator and 



Francis Fukuyama, Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity (New York: The Free Press, 
1995), 27-28. 

16 Covey, 22-24. 

17 Jessica Lipnack, and Jeffrey Stamps, Virtual Teams (John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1997), 224-228. 

18 Covey, 5. 
19 

Harrison D. Knight, Larry L. Cummings, Norman Chevary, "Trust Formation in New Organizational 

Relationships," paper given at the Information and Decision Sciences Workshop, University of Minnesota. 
University of Minnesota - Curtis L. Carlson School of Management, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1995, 5. 

26 



move into the dance of life." Her understanding of trust is that it is a process. She says 
that organizational structure is not a thing, but a process as well. Her organic approach to 
organizations and trust struck a powerful chord with me, as MCC is trying to understand 
the relationship of our structure to our values, to our sustainability and future success. 
The sense that something deeper is required, beyond tinkering mechanically with 
structure: that something spiritual, a leap forward, requires great trust, is more germane to 
the kind of change we are experiencing today in MCC. 

I resonated with psychologist Jim Meehan's effort to define trust, between 
individuals: "Having spent many years trying to define the essentials of trust, I arrived at 
the position that if two people could say two things to each other and mean them, then 
there was the basis for trust. The two things were "I mean you no harm" and "I seek your 

9 1 

greatest good." This, then, is more than "confidence." It is about the intention of 
another towards us, in a dynamic relationship. 

Trust, then, is not a noun, it is a profound, relational dynamic, an activity, a 
process. A process that includes its polar opposite, mistrust, or healthy skepticism and 
suspicion. This is in some ways, the hardest thing to grasp: that trust is not an all or 
nothing proposition, but, truly, a dance and a process. 

Knight, Cummings and Chevary, claim that "trusting a person means believing 
that when offered the chance, he or she is not likely to behave in a way that is damaging 

99 

to us." ' This is a definition based only on what we hope will not happen. Trust, then is 



20 

Margaret J. Wheatley, Finding Our Way (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2005), 1 12. 



21 Covey, 80. 



22 



As cited by, Knight, et al., 1 . 
27 



in part about what we hope will or will not happen in the future. It is as future-oriented as 
it is a description of the present. Mistrust, then, is also mistrust of what might happen. 
Moltmann also insists that there is no trust without risk, that trust by its very 
nature implies putting oneself in the hands of another who could potentially cause harm. 
Trust, therefore, is not trust if there is a 100% guarantee that nothing will go wrong. 
Trust is, in part, about a leap of faith, of confidence, of hope. Therefore, it is not only 
social, psychological, but spiritual. 

What, for instance, made the masses of people in Egypt trust that this was their 
moment in history, their time to risk standing up to a thirty year regime and say "no 
more?" What had kept them from doing this in the days, months and years before? Was it 
the encouraging sight of Tunisians successfully driving out their dictator? Was it the 
cumulative frustrations of a growing, young, educated but unemployed citizenry? Was it 
Twitter and Facebook, access to the world and to each other in this way? What produced 
that amazing symbol of mutual trust and support as Muslims encircled persecuted Coptic 
Christians as they prayed in the square, and Christians then returned the favor? 24 This 
new movement in the Arab world is a complex leap of faith and hope that required trust 
of each other, and mistrust of all they had been taught to believe. 
Are We Less Trusting? 

There is also debate about whether our world is becoming more or less trusting. 
The rate at which we are insuring ourselves against acts of mistrust seems to say we are 



23 Moltmann, 467. 

24 Sonia Verma, "Coptic Christians shoulder to shoulder with Muslims in Tahrir Square" 
www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/crises-in-egypt/coptic-christianSi (February 7, 201 1), accessed 
February 23, 2011. 

28 



less trusting. Yet, others propose that it is our carelessness in trusting without enough 
information that leads us to create more structures and boundaries around trust. 

Nick Spencer writes about trust in the context of business in a post-Enron era. 
Enron was the Houston based company that became the first in a long line of companies 
that "cooked" their books, to look more profitable. The heads of the company profited 
while shareholders and rank and file employees were devastated. He cites statistics in 
Great Britain that, "virtually all institutions and professions are trusted less than twenty 
years ago." He points to corporate scandals and dis-ease about globalization. He also 
points out that while we claim to mistrust the media, we still patronize it. Spencer 
reminds us that we trust by necessity and still get in our cars. 

Stephen Covey points to these statistics in the United States: " a 2005 Harris poll 
revealed that only 22% of those surveyed tend to trust the media, only 8% trust political 
parties, only 27% trust the government, and only 12% trust big companies." He did not 
include statistics about trust in churches or pastors. But, we all are aware of the ways in 
which the behavior or misbehavior of clergy and church leaders have left many people 
feeling mistrustful and disconnected from religion. Decades of such scandals have 
produced the phenomenon that while a vast majority of Americans, for instance, identify 
as "spiritual," fewer and fewer attend or join churches or places of worship. 

Onora O'Neill a well-known British philosopher lectured about current issues in 
trust and public life, focusing on the press. She speaks of the mixed evidence about 



Nick Spencer, Rebuilding Trust in Business: Enron and Beyond (London: Grove Books Ltd. 2006), 4. 
26 Covey, 11. 

29 



whether or not we (the public, or at least the British public) are actually less trusting, or 
simply trying to trust more wisely. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, in his recent book, Tokens of 
Trust, takes up this theme as well. On the one hand, he cites the "unusual amount of 
suspicion in public life" - religion, government, health care, and on the other hand sticks 
up for the "edge of critical response in every democracy" that is healthy mistrust. He 
quotes the O'Neill lecture, but also tries to connect the dilemmas about public trust to our 
need for spiritual solid ground and home. Williams, head of the Anglican Communion, 
leads a global denomination visibly and viscerally beset by problems of trust on a 
spiritual and organizational level. I appreciated his point of view that the concept of trust 
is essential to embracing a Christian concept of God, and of the role of Jesus Christ. 

Williams agrees with other writers in affirming that Christian "belief is not 
primarily about intellectual assent, but, more fundamentally, and organically, about 
trust. It is trust, and not belief, that people yearn for, and seek, in a spiritual or religious 
connection. 

T 1 

A lot of what we call "mistrust" is about not being in control. Today it is 
difficult to get our hearts or minds around the enormous volume of knowledge that we 
depend on for our daily lives. Post-modern life is dominated by the sense of being out of 



27 O'Nora O'Neill, "A Question of Trust: The BBC Reith Lectures 2002." (Cambridge University Press, 

2002). 

' Rowan Williams, Tokens of Trust: An Introduction to Christian Beliefs (Canterbury Press, 2007). 

29 Ibid., 4. 

30 Ibid., 5. 

31 Ibid., 4. 

30 



control much of the time. The volume of decisions and demands overwhelm even those 
who are bright, successful and privileged. 

The topic of trust is becoming more visible as a topic of research and inquiry. 
This was confirmed by a recent issue of Harvard Business Review, in which the spotlight 
was on "Rebuilding Trust." Psychologist Roderick Kramer explored trust through the 
story of Bernie Madoff, the convicted perpetrator of a 65 billion dollar Ponzi scheme. 
Although we have been told that "trust has been touted as the powerful lubricant that 

-jo 

keeps the economic wheels turning," and that there are many benefits to increasing 
trust, there may be another side to this coin. 

Kramer brings up the fact that to trust can be a strength or a weakness, depending 
on whether we are dealing with trustworthy or untrustworthy people. 34 He says this to 
counter the current, emerging, but maybe too simplistic view, that increasing trust is good 
for business. In a world of increasing complexity, where we rely more and more on 
experts, it is important to know that just trusting alone is not enough - we need to trust 
wisely. 

Kramer talks about human beings entering the world "hard-wired" to be 
dependent and to trust; and that this has been shown to be scientifically significant in our 
success as a species. Even though people say they trust institutions and organizations 
less and less, does human behavior really bear that out? Kramer posits that a kind of 
"presumptive trust," a less conscious, automatic trust, overall tends to serve us well - 



Roderick Kramer, "Rethinking Trust," Harvard Business Review, June 2009, 60-77. 

33 Ibid., 6. 

34 Ibid., 70. 

35 Ibid. 

31 



until it doesn't. In other words, unless we are damaged at an early age, we have a "bias 
towards trust." This bias can make us very vulnerable to the kind of scam Bernie 
Madoff pulled off on some very bright people. We trust people, sometimes, just because 
someone we know or trust also trusts them. 

This is also known as "dispositional trust," which is trusting "beyond the 
personal. ... this is in a sense 'attitudinal.'In other words, a person may be predisposed to 
assume people are generally trustworthy, or even that one gets better results generally if 
one trusts than if one does not." So, even with evidence to the contrary, I may choose to 
trust because I am predisposed to do so, in my personality, or as a habit. One may also be 
overly trusting because of a reputation someone has, which may or may not be accurate 
or current. Our basis of trust may be more anecdotal than factual. And we may be 
seduced by someone else's claims if we are already predisposed to trust. 

Mohammed Yunnus claimed that deciding to trust the poor was a good decision 
to make, in terms of the health and strength of the Grameen bank. Whatever minor 
troubles there were are outweighed by the benefits of extending trust. It is interesting that 
Yunnus' recent troubles in courts in Bangladesh come not from the poor, who are his 
base, but from the politicians, those in power, who are threatened by his criticisms. And, 
how genuinely surprised and wounded he seems by it, though he is so aware of the power 
of the corrupt whom he seeks to expose and defeat. 40 



36 Ibid., 71. 

37 Ibid. 

38 Knight, et. al, 13. 

39 Ibid., 14 . 

40 Lydia Polgreen, "Microcredit Pioneer Faces and Inquiry in Bangladesh," New York Times, Sunday, 
January 11,2011, 10. 

32 



Writing about our tendency to see what we want to see, Kramer claims that we 
often do not see evidence that is contradictory, which is called a "confirmation bias." 
This bias colludes with and undergirds poor judgment. 41 

I have also thought and observed in thirty years of pastoring, that those whose 
trust was abused as children have their trust "antenna" seriously damaged. They swing 
between the poles of being too trusting or unable to trust almost at all. This reminds me 
of the "all or nothing" orientation of alcoholics, or adult children of alcoholics. Because 
their capacity to discern if someone is trustworthy or not is damaged, the default position 
is to be suspicious of everyone, or to simply fall for everything. This "disability" 
requires establishing an appropriate and trusting relationship with at least one other 
person, who is trustworthy, to begin repairing and restoring that capacity to trust wisely 
and well. 

The implications for MCC are very serious. Studies have confirmed that LGBT 
people, in general have a much higher incidence of childhood abuse or trauma, perhaps 
because they were targeted by family, peers, or other adults. Some psychologists saw this 
as a "causal" connection to homosexuality, rather than a consequence, which supported 
the "disease model" of homosexuality. With a much higher percentage of people whose 
"trust antennas" have been damaged, MCC has to focus even more vigilantly on creating 
and sustaining valid, reasonable, verifiable trust system-wide. 

A O 

Kramer offers seven rules for "tempering trust," ways to help people trust more 
wisely in our complex world. Those rules are, briefly: know yourself; start small; write an 



41 Kramer, 71. 



33 



escape clause; send strong signals; recognize the other person's dilemma; look at roles as 
well as people; and remain vigilant and always question. 43 These are very useful for a 
methodology of building trust or restoring it. In a counter-intuitive way, remaining 
vigilant and always asking questions, which sounds like mis-trust, is really a doorway to 
trust. 

Kramer also refers to a "science of trust" what he calls "an interdisciplinary 
movement of neuro-economists, behavioral economists and psychologists." 45 There is a 
spiritual dimension to all of this embedded in his rules and reflections, and it would be 
fascinating to expand that interdisciplinary movement to include religion and theology. 
Trust, Questioning Authority, and Freedom 

I take issue with Jack Gibb, a social psychologist, quoted by William Hobgood, 
"who studied trust development in hundreds of groups, (and) says that trust 'implies 
instinctive, unquestioning belief in and reliance upon something.'" Trust is required for 
individual and organizational health, yet we must be aware of the dangers of misplaced 
trust. Wise trusting and mistrusting can both be healthy. Questioning authority is a 
practice that makes trustworthy leadership possible. Claiming freedom to question 
authority made a church like MCC possible. 

Is trust something that is or should be just granted a priori, to God, or to human 
beings or institutions, simply because of their reputations or status? Or does trust have to 
be earned, and proven, and if so, how often? Does trust simply accrue when someone or 

42 Ibid., 74. 

43 Ibid., 74-77. 

44 Ibid., 77. 

45 Ibid. 

46 William Chris Hobgood, Welcoming Resistance (Alban Institute, 2001), 18. 

34 



some group is "competent?" Or is it more than competence? Covey claims that we each 
have a "trust account" with different accounts for each relationship with individuals and 
groups. 47 Is there something in human DNA, or brain structure, as Kramer says, that sets 
us up to trust others, and perhaps a higher power? Or, is trust more about our early 

AQ 

childhood development, as psychologists such as Erik Erikson posited decades ago? 

Jurgen Moltmann, speaking at the intersection of public policy, government and 
international relations, organizations and theology, says: "Trust is the necessary habit of 
freedom, its living space." 49 He connects trust and truth, and says that "only trust can 
bring freedom in a society." His theory is that the more control a government or society 
asserts, the less trust there is, and vice-versa, and the less truth is valued as well. Seeking 
total control is ultimately destructive and futile, as he observes in the latter years of 
Soviet-style rule, which still prevails in some places. 

This connection of trust, truth and freedom is fundamental to MCC's origins and 
mission, "tearing down walls and building up hope." Without making a connection 
between trust and justice, there can be no hope for the future. 
Trust and Justice 

In Virtual Teams, the prescription for creating trust in teams is to teach them to 
trust the people, the process and the communication/information links. 51 What is often 
missing is a trustworthy process. This is often where issues of justice arise. Are processes 



47 Covey, 131-132. 



48 Moltmann, 467, referring to Erik H. Erikson, Identity and the Life-Cycle (New York: International 
Universities Press, 1959). 

49 Ibid. 

50 Ibid., 466. 

Lipnack and Stamps, 226. 

35 



in the organization, in the church fair? Perceived as fair? The recent Supreme Court case 
about the promotions of fire fighters in New Haven, based on written tests, brings this 
issue of real and perceived fairness to the forefront. Most places now do not rely solely 
on certain kinds of tests alone, but a variety of factors, in promotion, because of cultural 
issues and other considerations. On the surface, a procedure may look fair, but truth and 
real fairness are often more complex than a superficial view would have us believe. 

Recently, about 250 LGBT leaders met with President Obama. There are tensions 
in our community around people trusting any President. Some want to trust this 
President because they are very invested in a Democratic President, in him in particular, 
and just will not abide people speaking up about missteps or promises not yet fulfilled. 
Others, who are so sure that no President will ever really come through for us are cynical, 
and not really willing to give him a chance. In a high-pressure, high stakes political 
world, which focuses on results, it is hard for people to trust a process, to wait for justice. 

It is also important to acknowledge that, as the first African American President, 
he has been subject to horrifically violent rhetoric based on the feeling or misperception 
that he is really "not one of us," not white, and not really American, or really Christian. 
Evidently, one must be Christian to be President of the United States, and the kind of 
Christian that certain Christians say is acceptable. In so far as queer people are 
marginalized, no matter our gender identity, religion, race or class, we have some 
appreciation for how the President is misperceived. 

Racism complicated the LGBT community's relationship with the President. Much 
of the leadership in our community, secular and religious, has been, historically, white. 

36 



Racism, and Islamaphobia are issues we have to deal with in our own movement. Some 
may avoid criticizing the President because they do not want to appear racist. Others may 
want the President's support without also offering support, or caring about the other 
issues the President has to confront. They have little understanding of the need to work in 
coalition, in solidarity with the struggles of others to whom the President, and all of us 
are accountable. 

Is it wise to trust this President? To support him as he balances turning the 
economy around, solving health care and dealing with an Arab world that is exploding 
just two years after he made his Cairo speech? Can we give the President space to do 
things his way, and allow his views (of gay marriage, for instance), "to evolve?" Where 
are our issues in the line-up? Where should they be? How is the emerging clout, 
economic and political power of the LGBT community handled? The President is 
charming; he and his wife are visibly comfortable with LGBT people. He speaks 
passionately and convincingly enough. How much of our support is the thrill for us of 
being close to celebrities and power? What will we be tempted to give up or compromise 
for that? In that room with the President and his wife were African American LGBT folks 
who have added complications. A year before he was elected President, a majority of 
African Americans were for Hillary Clinton, because they did not trust that white 
Americans would vote for a black man. When the white voters of Iowa shocked the 
African American community in this country, they began to get on board, and believe 



The first male White House social secretary is a gay man! New York Times, February 26, 201 1. 
37 



that history was about to be made, and that justice was possible. Sometimes, we say we 
do not want what we do not believe is possible. Then we have to catch up! 

For all minority groups, for all those who have experienced oppression, there is a 
tension between trust and justice. To keep trusting and trusting as justice is delayed or 
denied is not wise. It is demeaning to have to trust others for our justice. Sometimes we 
have to learn how to take our place, assert our right to complete equality, not accept the 
counsel to just wait patiently. Do we believe that justice will automatically come? Or do 
we seek and fight for justice, and trust that in so doing, it will come, at last? 

People in MCC, like those of other minorities, are very "justice sensitive," 
expecting just treatment only from those in our group. Some anticipate the worst in every 
encounter, personally or politically. We may cling to idealized views of our group as our 
"hold" on sanity, connection and justice. 

In the LGBT community we often treat every other LGBT person as a "shirt-tail 
relative." It is like we have a family resemblance, somehow. It would make sense if 
there is some DNA factor in sexual orientation and gender identity, but that is not the 
only factor. I remember my first time in South Africa, hoping to meet LGBT Christians 
for the very first time, in 1993. One evening, I was waiting for two young men I had 
never seen before. Suddenly, I saw them, wearing the jeans and white T-shirt uniform of 
gay men in San Francisco, but it was more than that: their body language, their sexuality 
and other more subtle signals told me they were gay, and they were "my people." They 



' 3 1 learned this from Southern friends: a "shirt-tail relative" is someone you are vaguely related to, in ways 
that make them familial, though you may not know exactly why and it may be awkward or unhelpful to try 
to discover! 

38 



were shocked and mystified that I knew who they were (!), but it touched me and 
comforted me, so far away from home. They were complete strangers, but I trustingly got 
in a car with them, and we were instantly communicating with amazing rapport. 

This is called "unit grouping" trust. 54 The concept is that when you become part of 
a group, at least at first, you automatically are inclined to trust them a little more because 
of the sense of mutual belonging. Perhaps it is also the sense that one's destiny is tied to 
the destiny of others in the group that one's hope for justice is bound up with theirs. 

The other factor is power. If one definition of trust is that it means "depending" 
on another or a group, then trust is linked to power. As one author says, "Since trust 
means a willingness to depend, one who trusts is willing to place the other in a situational 
position of power over him/her." ' Being part of a minority means that to some degree, 
you are dependent on the majority and its framework for reality or for access to 
resources. Members of minority groups, because of that dependency on the majority 
framework, have to trust the dominant group for at least some things, whether they want 
to or not, whether they are emotionally disposed to or not. If the majority are not 
oppressive or abusive, William Hobgood says, "trust is the quality that makes 'good 
power' work." 56 If not, of course, then, trusting in that oppressive power sets a minority 
group up to collude in their own oppression. 



54 Knight, et. al, 23. 

55 Ibid., 9-10. 

56 Hobgood, 118. 

39 



MCC's Religious Context and Consciousness: 

MCC has at least two religious, institutional contexts that are very relevant to the 
subject of organizational trust. The first is our Evangelical-Pentecostal religious roots, 
and the fact that at least 40% of MCCer's, globally, are from a Roman Catholic 
background. Both these kinds of backgrounds, from more authoritarian religious systems, 
present special challenges with institutional trust. 

Those from an evangelical background were often not so free. They were called 
"free church" because they were not state churches, and were from the "dissenting" wing 
of the Protestant Reformation. The combined legacies of Puritanism, Calvinism, 
fundamentalism and the more recent Pentecostalism (all very different from each other) 
have an enormous, cumulative impact. They created churches and denominations that 
often uncritically perpetuated male authority which elevated "obedience" above other 
moral imperatives. They did this in ways that were different from Roman Catholicism, 
relying more heavily on scripture and the idealizing of a family system with the "man as 
head of household" for the sources of authority. 

MCC's context of freedom, in contrast, was that of experimentation and openness. 
We brought our church backgrounds, assumptions about church, theology, the Bible, 
authority and church organization with us. We were to foster unity in essentials, and 
diversity in everything else. Our struggles with control, versus our stated value of 
freedom, were intense. Theological diversity delighted some, but scared others, especially 
those who had not completely recovered from fundamentalism. Many in MCC were 



7 Wyndy Corbin-Reuschling, '"Trust and Obey:' The Danger of Obedience as Duty in Evangelical Ethics," 
Journal for the Society of Christian Ethics. 25 no 2, 2005, 59-77. 

40 



desperate to be considered truly "Christian," sometimes as a symptom of unhealed 
homophobia. 

At MCC's fourth General Conference, in 1973, the first I ever attended, we passed 
MCC's first by-laws, which included a Statement of Faith. That awkwardly cobbled 
together statement, claimed (almost ridiculously, then) that MCC "moved in the 
mainstream of Christianity," and embraced the historic creeds, Apostles and Nicene. 
Then, someone stood up and asked to amend by adding the Athanasian Creed. It passed 
handily, only because no one wanted to admit we were not familiar with it! When we got 
home, many of us looked it up, with its language about the church, "outside of which 
there is no salvation," and promptly came back and removed it the following year. We 
wanted balance, doctrinal ordinariness and radical inclusivity in our key statement of 
belief. 

It was this insistence that drew the fury of the growing Religious Right in the U.S. 
If we had not claimed at least a little orthodoxy, if we had not enthusiastically claimed 
the Bible, we would have been a passing interest. Our insistence on connecting to 
tradition drew violent responses, hate crimes and lots of opposition. 

As we grew, and quite rapidly, negotiating what we meant by "Christian" often 
took time and courage we didn't have. Some crisis was always bringing us together, 
setting aside the questions about each other's faith and theological boundaries until 
another time. When I became Moderator, we created a new Theologies Team for MCC 
just to get the conversation going again, creating safe spaces to talk about our rich, 



58 Nancy L. Wilson, "Outing the Sodomite," from Our Tribe: Queer Folk, God, Jesus and the Bible (San 
Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1995), 163-208. 

41 



emerging theological life and contributions. There has been a wonderful response to their 
work. 

Evangelicalism, Pentecostalism and fundamentalism were all rooted in an 
"outsider" status, despised and even persecuted as religious outcasts who were suspicious 
of traditional institutions. They were also rooted among working class or poor people. 
These movements then often gave away their power to their own trusted leaders, in 
unquestioning obedience and loyalty. They believed they needed strong leadership to 
sustain them in their minority social location, but then allowed that leadership to avoid 
accountability. MCC is also a minority, largely working class church movement, 59 which 
is why leadership accountability is important. It is why we want our leaders and people 
to be well educated; and why we sometimes resist education. 

In our celebrity-soaked culture, religious leaders are often celebrities, or treated 
that way. Celebrities are not elected or accountable. They are free to abuse power, and 
can be adored or abused by their fans. In many ways, Troy Perry was and is a celebrity in 
the LGBT community who has had considerable media attention and visibility in his life. 
Fortunately, he had the integrity and humility required of a level five leader that kept 
him from abusing that power and authority in MCC. 

Forty percent of MCCer's grew up Roman Catholic, and are well acquainted with 
the present scandals involving sexual abuse scandals, all too many of them first hand. On 



59 This is, by the way, one reason education has become so important for MCC leaders, as education is a 
way to "lift ourselves up" in terms of our religious and class origins. This is why honoring Troy Perry with 
a doctorate at EDS was so powerful. 

Jim Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . .and Others Don 't (Collins 
Business, 2001). A level five leader is one who "builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of 
personal humility and professional will," 20 and pages 39-40. 

42 



an anecdotal basis, I have been quite overwhelmed with the number of men and women 
in MCC who have been molested by priests and Protestant clergy as children. Those who 
were gay often kept quiet about it because they were afraid of exposing their own 
sexuality in the process. The levels of shame, guilt and mistrust of clergy are quite 
staggering, and make being an MCC pastor challenging. 

I am not sure why it is that LGBT people seem to have been targeted more for such 
abuse than most people. At one time, that was viewed causally - that such abuse 
produced homosexual or "deviant" behavior. Of course I do not agree with that theory. 
But, I do wonder if LGBT people, who as children are sometimes isolated and targeted 
for bullying, are not also targeted for sexual abuse by adults. 

When I was pastoring MCC Los Angeles, a woman came to my office, upset with 
me. The Sunday before, she was sure that in the middle of my sermon, I told her to leave 
the church. Of course, I did no such thing. She seemed genuinely surprised when I told 
her that I had not done that, and then broke down and told me about having been in foster 
care with a Protestant (fundamentalist) clergy and his wife, and being molested by him 
for years. She had not been to a church as an adult. Just coming to MCC triggered a 
breakdown/breakthrough in facing her abuse. Thus began a long road of healing. The 
amount of this kind of projection that MCC clergy find ourselves experiencing is usually 
more subtle, but staggering at times. 

Dr. Carolyn "Dusty" Pruitt, after pastoring in MCC for many years, did her 
doctoral thesis about the statistical correlation between child sexual abuse and 



43 



authoritarian religion, having been abused by her Southern Baptist pastor father. 61 If most 
MCCer's come from a more authoritarian religious background, then, also they were 
more likely to have been exposed to sexual abuse, even before they were targeted for 
being queer. 

Those abused by Catholic priests are often some of the most challenging, in terms 
of the level and severity of abuse. Some cases were cruel, sadistic and brutal. Others were 
grossly inappropriate. All were harmful and destructive of the tender, emerging faith and 
relationship with God and the church. The church abandoned them into the hands of 
untrustworthy priests who broke their hearts and sometimes their bodies as well. To 
become pastor or priest to such persons takes a lot of patience. For these victims to open 
themselves up to a vocation is even more work. 

Catholics or "recovering Catholics," in MCC love and value key Catholic 
concepts: frequent communion; liturgy and aesthetics; a sense of being a part of the Body 
of Christ all around the world; the value of education; a very active concept of the 
communion of saints. Contemporary Catholic theologies, such as Liberation Theology, 
are very appealing and adaptable to MCC's context. 

Bill Kondrath has talked about the tension between accountability systems in 
organizations, especially churches, and the concept of loyalty. All of us in MCC have 
seen churches that seemed unwilling to really allow a pastor to lead at all. Such churches 



61 Carolyn "Dusty" Pruitt, "But Thou Shalt Forget the Shame of Thy Youth: A Study of Authoritarianism, 
Religiosity and Child Sexual Abuse." A doctoral thesis completed at Claremont School of Theology, 1987, 
www.dustypruitt.com. 

ft) * • 

Bill Kondrath, conversation, in our class, "Creativity, Conflict and Change." The idea is that there is a 
continuum between loyalty and accountability, and one can place members of any congregation on that 
continuum in any particular conflict. 

44 



may have had unresolved trust issues with previous pastors, or are led by laity who bring 
those issues forward with them from other experiences. On the other hand, there are 
churches that continue to be unwisely loyal to a pastor who has betrayed trust, but the 
church does not want to face that, and the problems continue. 

Here, then the issue of trusting the denomination comes in. Creating trusting 
relationship between pastors, lay leaders and denominational officials makes all the 
difference when they are needed to help the church face problems, to intervene in 
conflicts, or challenge them to change and grow. Can Elders be ecclesial, that is, 
exercising appointing or affilitiating authority and also serve as a consultant; or as a 
pastor to a pastor and their family? Can Elders be pastoral, but not conflict adverse, in 
case they have to talk the pastor into resigning or going into treatment; or talk to a church 
matriarch or patriarch into backing off? 
Models of Trust in Organizations: 

There is a lot of material that describes trust, the process of creating and 
sustaining trust, and the process of repairing trust. There is material on how to trust more 
wisely, and what the elements of trustworthy leadership might be. We are still a little 
poor in the creation of models of trust, especially for communities with special issues 
around trust, because of oppression or abuse. 

One metaphor is to view trust as a bridge. A bridge is a thing, a noun, but 
"bridging" is an activity. Trust is an emotional, psychological, spiritual bridge from 
isolation and powerlessness, to connection, freedom and empowerment. The whole 
practice of psychotherapy is predicated on helping a client trust enough, hopefully wisely 

45 



enough, to be able to heal. This is why betrayal by a therapist is doubly wounding - to be 
wounded in the process of trying to restore, repair basic trust, is, indeed, very hard to 
recover from. Clients find that it is not so much that they cannot trust a therapist 
anymore, but they cannot trust themselves to choose a good one. It is the undermining of 
one's trust in one's own judgment that is often the most humiliating and damaging aspect 
of such betrayal. 

In one sense, coming out is a bridge for LGBT people. From where we were, in a 
closet, we had to risk crossing over to a new land, a new way of living and being. But the 
bridge image is limited in that it gives the illusion that one crosses a bridge and that's 
that. Trust, and building trust (like coming out!) is an ongoing process, that is never 
completely finished, it is a lifelong process. In organizations, it is an aspect of life that 
requires vigilance and attention at every juncture. 

My partner Paula has an image she uses with couples in her psychotherapy 
practice, called the trust cake. If you were to look at a round cake from the top, you 
could divide the cake into pieces, depending on which issues were "bigger" for you, more 
important (saving money, sexual fidelity, telling the truth, showing affection and paying 
attention, sharing the burden of household work, raising children together, etc.). Then 
you would think about how deeply (looking at the side of the cake) you trust him or her 
for each issue (or slice of cake). Thus there are two dimensions, the relative importance 
of each issue, and the depth of trust presently felt around that issues. 

Another metaphor or model is that trust that is analogous to our skin as it 
grows. Learning to trust wisely and be trustworthy is important to our social, 

46 



psychological, spiritual selves as our skin is to our body. The skin is, in fact, our largest 
organ, and yet, most of us are unaware that it is an organ. We are less aware of it when it 
is healthy and functions well. Our skin grows with us as we grow up, much as our 
capacity to trust wisely also needs to grow. 

Our skin is our first defense system against harm and disease. Damaged skin is 
painful and opens us up to disease and infection. Skin is a powerful, organic boundary 
which loosens with age. Sometimes it becomes thin and becomes more vulnerable. When 
we are injured, our skin is sometimes scarred, even for life. If too much of our skin is 
damaged, we die. 

Our skin is also an erotic locus. Skin is the site of touching and being touched. 
Our skin and nerves respond, negatively and positively to the touch of others, in a way 
that deeply and mysteriously determined. We connect with others, powerfully, with our 
skin, in affection, in sexual contact, in erotic play and power. Our skin is protective, but it 
is also porous and permeable. It gives us shape and texture. It has social and political 
implications. Entertainer Michael Jackson's life and death was determined by the fact 
that he was never at home in his skin, especially in terms of race and gender. 

We talk about learning to be comfortable in our own skin; learning to love its 
color, texture, heat and coolness. Our skin breathes. In Chinese medicine, our skin is 
most connected, as an organ, to the lungs. Every cell in our body changes every seven 
years, including our skin. What might be the implications for organizations, then? 
Should our organizations shed some of their structures, shapes, change their charts, 



47 



leadership structure at least every seven years? Would that kind of organic review 
improve trust? 

Change is natural, normal, in bodies and in organizations. Trust that is nurtured 
helps organizations manage change partly by maintaining healthy boundaries. When trust 
is intact, operating well as a relational dynamic, we are less aware of it than when it has 
been broken. We speak of being "burned," psychologically, socially, emotionally, when 
we are deeply hurt. When our skin is burned, we become vulnerable immunologically. 
When our trust is broken, it can be hard to re-establish trust, which is necessary to healthy 
functioning interpersonally and in organizations. 

Some people are scarred in terms of trust, even for life, and any minority 
community that has to cope with oppression starts out with a compromised trust system 
that requires special healing and attention. 

We can't live without skin, or without trust. No organization can flourish or grow 
without a healthy skin to protect the "bones" or structure. No organization can thrive 
without healthy trust throughout its system. 
Trustworthy Leaders 

For a church like MCC, we have to have leaders who are willing to engage around 
the "trust deficit" issues that challenge our churches and communities. 

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, says that what makes a good organization 
become great, first and foremost, is what he calls "Level 5 Leaders." I translate this to 
mean what makes trustworthy leaders. To summarize, he says such leaders: 



63 Collins, 39. 



48 



■ Embody a paradoxical mix of personal humility and professional will 

■ Set up successors for even greater success in the next generation 

■ Display a compelling modesty 

■ Are fanatically driven, infected with an incurable need to produce sustained 
results, no matter how hard the decisions 

■ Are more plow horse than show horse 

■ Look out the window to attribute success to others; look in the mirror to take the 
blame for errors 64 

I take this to heart as I lead MCC these days. What would it mean for us if more of 
our pastors, lay leaders, and denominational leaders could embrace all or many of these 
characteristics? 

In her book, Finding Our Way: Leadership for Uncertain Times, Margaret Wheatley 
has this prescription for what she calls "New Organizational Capabilities," that are 
necessary for trust: 65 

■ Focus People on the Big Picture — keep people from "spiraling inward" — 
"sponsor processes to bring people together." This is also about having an 
"external focus," rather than institutional navel-gazing. It is focus on the mission, 
which engenders trust. 

■ Communicate honestly and quickly — "People deal far better with uncertainty and 
stress when they know what's going on, even if the information is incomplete." In 
an embattled, low-trust environment, this is crucial. 

■ Prepare for the Unknown. This we do not necessarily do well in MC, though, as 
we have become more flexible in our structure, we can be more nimble in our 
responses. 



64 
65 



Ibid. 



Wheatley, 118-123. 
49 



■ Keep meaning at the forefront — "meaning" is the most powerful motivator, 
communicate meaning! Managing a lot of change in our uncertain environment 
means communicating better, succinctly and about meaning, first of all. 

Finally, I offer an analysis based on the "Four Frames" of refraining an organization 

as a touchstone for understanding trust and MCC: 

Structure: If organizational structure is really a process, not a static, fixed product, not 
about one way or one model, this means that we have to trust our people, our creativity, 
ourselves-in-relation as we align our organization with our purpose and a trustworthy, 
justice-based process. As we seek justice, wholeness and the realm of God, our structure 
based in trust and trustworthiness will emerge. While it is not helpful to see structure changes 
as the solution to every problem, I can testify to the difficulties of working in a structure that 
lacks clarity of roles and responsibilities. For years, I watched how difficult it was for us to 
make some critical decisions in MCC, because no one was quite sure who had the authority 
or responsibility to do so. Structure clarity is a gift that we gave to ourselves recently, along 
with simplicity and flexibility. The other observation is that leaders have to be trained in 
how to make a structure really work. This takes time and focus to achieve. 

Human Resources. We must be the kind of church in which leaders respect followers, 
and trust can be tested. How we treat one another, trust one another, is a sign of our 
authenticity as a church of Jesus. Trusting our fellow workers, our churches, our pastors, lay 
leaders becomes more and more the way forward. How can we demonstrate that caring for 
each other is our first concern? This is an issue with counter-cultural, non-profits and 



Lee Bolman and Terrence Deal. Refraining Organizations: Artistry, Choice and Leadership (Jossey- 
Bass, Inc., Fourth Edition, 2008). 



50 



churches. We have rhetoric of justice, but sometimes we lack adequate human resources 
policies and practices. Or we are uncertain about what is just and appropriate in terms of 
salaries and benefits for leaders and workers. We do not focus enough attention on our 
theology or philosophy of budgeting and justice. We are always making up for past 
injustices, rather than setting and sticking to policies and practices that are realistic and fair. 
Many of our local church boards also need guidance on these issues. 

Political: Trust must be based in sophisticated power analysis (which is missing in 
Covey and many others). This includes appreciating differences, and understanding life from 
the margins as well as the center. Our organization must reflect post-colonial analysis. Trust 
must have its eyes wide open as it becomes an ally of justice. Perhaps our biggest challenge 
in this arena is creating a global structure and system that will help churches from outside 
North America to thrive with just the right balance between autonomy and connection. If our 
resource engine is in North America, how can we let go and share MCC globally with limited 
resources, and without North American dominance? How can we invite emerging global 
leaders into conversation that will solicit their best, creative thinking, and encourage their 
leadership for our future? In the U.S. in particular, it will be lifting up the voices and inviting 
the leadership of young adults, of racial and ethnic minorities to really take their place in 
creating MCC's future. 

Symbolic: Our church, our movement must be rooted in truth and truth- telling, in 
shared values, humility, in connecting Jesus and justice. MCC's practice of Open 
Communion, based in radical inclusivity, is clearly rooted in a sacramentality of trust. It feels 
like there is a lot of competency in that one area of liturgical life. There is a lot to be 

51 



explored in MCC's liturgical and theological diversity, in sharing our stories. I'm not sure 
we have ever really stopped to study our symbolic life, activities and reflected on them. This 
is a rich area for study and growth in MCC. 
Conclusion: 

Creating a trustworthy organization, especially a church from the margins, is a worthy 
vocation, and a great gift to any community. MCC's great gift to our communities and to the 
world is the model of a church institution that is committed to embodying trustworthy 
practices and behaviors. We do this, not only because it is the way to succeed, in the long 
run, but also out of a deep, spiritual conviction that to do so is to align ourselves with the 
trustworthy God who called us in the first placed. And for the sake of so many who will 
come after us, looking for hope in a place they can trust. 



52 



CHAPTER 3 
QUEERING TRUST THEOLOGICALLY 

In this chapter, I will offer selected theological resources and insights regarding 
trust. These will be viewed through the context of MCC's emerging theological 
development in order to "re-orient" a theological conversation about trust, and attempt to 
"queer it." I will thread, throughout, some reflections on the life and ministry of Charles 
Wesley, the 1 8 th century preacher and movement leader, whose struggles with theology 
and trust are instructive. I will also focus on selected feminist, liberation and queer 
voices as we think theologically about leadership and trust. 

Trust and mistrust in God and in community is at the heart of much of the Biblical 
narrative and its expressed values: broken trust characterizes the Adam and Eve stories; 
the call of Abraham, stories of the patriarchs, Moses and Exodus are about the re- 
establishment of, and experimentation with trust. The prophetic tradition can be framed 
as the effort of the prophets to call Israel back to faithfulness, i.e., trustworthiness; and to 
a renewed trust in a God who cares about justice. 

The Psalms speak over and over again of the challenge and necessity to trust in 
God, in good times and in trying times, reminding the reader of the nature of God who is 
to be trusted, despite outward circumstances and appearances! In many ways, the Psalms 
are an excellent view into the paradox of trust and mistrust: doubt and fear and outrage 



53 



are often the opening lines of a Psalm, which moves towards letting go and affirmation of 
trust. 1 

Jesus' ministry in the margins called out the religious establishment for their 
hypocrisy and untrustworthiness as spiritual guides. Jesus trusts himself to those labeled 
as sinners and outcasts; he associates with women who offered him food, safe lodging, 
and resources; and with people of doubtful reputation, who became his disciples. The 
disciples and the early church, as the Body of Christ, had to trust the presence of a 
crucified and risen Lord, and a very unpredictable Holy Spirit. They had to trust one 
another, as they "held all things in common," and gave their lives to this marginalized 
community of healing, hope, justice and resurrection. 

The history and evolving theology of the Christian Church can be viewed through 
the lens of trust broken and restored; of institutions and whole cultures that stray far from 
the preaching and vision of Jesus, of that realm of justice and peace, which must be 
continuously reformed and re-invented. 
Queering Charles Wesley 

In trying to come to a deeper understanding of the theology of trust and 
trustworthiness, I have focused on the theology and life of Charles Wesley, the younger 
brother of John Wesley, and the co-founder of the Methodist revival. Wesley lived and 
ministered at the powerful juncture of the Reformation and the Enlightenment. At the 
heart of his theology and hymnody, and at the heart of the movement he co-founded, was 



For Christians, in particular, Psalm 22, which Jesus, in the gospel story, quotes from the cross, Mark 
15:34. 
2 Acts 4:32 (NT/). 

54 



radical and trustworthy love of God. This love of God was deeply challenged by his 
conflicting institutional and personal loyalties as the Methodist movement grew. I have 
tried to "queer" his story, without any implications about his sexuality. 

Charles Wesley was the most famous and prolific hymn writer in Christian history 
(he wrote about 9,000 hymns in all) and at least 400 of those hymns have endured and 
become ecumenical classics. He is a complicated figure in terms of his role in the birth 
of a movement that crossed class lines and sensibilities in eighteenth century England; 
also because of painful conflicts with the direction of Methodism, and with his brother, 
John, concerning the intersections of theology, ecclesiology, trust and class. 

These issues are also at the core of Metropolitan Community Church's self- 
understanding, three centuries later. Charles Wesley lived during the first forty years of 
Methodism, and I have served in leadership of MCC for thirty-six of its first forty two 
years. Many of the stories of early Methodist remind me of MCC's story. 

Wesley turned the church of his day, its theology, its deeply rooted class 
orthodoxy, on its ear, and so doing "queered," or expanded the diversity of the church 
into this Methodist movement. He and his brother, and many others from the early days 
of the movement were threatened, beaten, persecuted and derided for their theology of 
radical inclusion, and their ministry to the under classes. 

Let me offer Dr. Tom Bohache's definition of "queering:" 

I use the term 'queer' in an inclusive sense to refer to all who are 
disempowered in a heteronormative world, whether they self-identify as 
gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, straight, questioning or none of 



John R. Tyson, Assist Me to Proclaim: The Life and Hymns of Charles Wesley (Grand Rapids, Michigan: 
William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007), viii. 

55 



these... the word 'queer' empowers diversity because of its imprecise and 
hard-to-pin down meaning. Moreover, 'queer' has both an adjectival 
(descriptive) and verbal (active) sense.... One who is 'queer' may be seen 
as transgressive, unorthodox, radical, in-your-face or against-the-grain, 
because in imperialist straight society, s/he navigates in intentional 
opposition to a seemingly fixed current. . ..Thus to 'queer' a scripture is to 
render it unusual and non-normative, to shake it up and see how it might 
be reconfigured, or even, as the queer theologian and activist Robert Goss 
has maintained, to 'spoil what has already been spoiled' by generations of 
sexist, racist and homophobic biblical interpretation.... A 'queer' 
hermeneutic. . .will not only 'queer' but it will query: it must be 
a. . .turning over of layers of heteropatriarchal tradition to reveal what lies 
beneath. 4 

This definition supports a paradox about trust that must be theologically 
unpacked: that healthy trust is created when we achieve a balance between risking trust 
and healthy mistrust, or questioning. In order for an individual or community to thrive, 
creating trusting relationships is necessary and healing: but we must retain the right to use 
a "hermeneutic of suspicion," 5 when dealing with issues of power and privilege, in the 
community and beyond. That includes our relationships with God, faith, the Bible and 
church. 

To refuse to trust is to live in the kind of paranoid, manipulative world where one 
never knows what is true or whom to trust, a very post-modern experience; and the 
subject of a lot of films and popular TV shows, such as "Damages." 6 On the other hand, 
to trust unwisely, without verification, is to be vulnerable to the Bernie Madoff s of the 
world, if one has money, or the forces of global capitalism if one does not. 



4 TomBohache, "Matthew," The Queer Bible Commentary (London: SCM Press, 2006), 493. 

This concept is from Elizabeth Schussler-Fiorenza's powerful book, In Memory of Her: A Feminist 
Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins (New York: Crossroads, 1983). 

In this show starring Glenn Close as a gifted self-promoting lawyer, every episode brings twists and turns, 
and questions about who or what to trust. The answer is always nothing and no one. 

56 



Theology has a role in creating or undermining trust, especially in the church. 
What does it mean to trust God with that paradoxical view? What "lies beneath" our 
traditions and struggles around that core concept of a trusting relationship with the Divine 
and with other human beings? 

Religion seems to function in two contradictory ways in society. On the one hand, 
religion is as a tool of oppression, the handmaiden of colonialism and capitalism; and a 
way of keeping and holding power and dividing people from each other. Religion is used 
as a justification for violence and war. On the other hand, it is an ardent promoter of 
progressive values of love, community, non-violence, peace and justice. 

Healthy trusting, which empowers all parties, is counter-cultural in the early part 
of the 21 st century. Political careers, financial fortunes, media empires are built on fear 
and mistrust. Trusting runs counter to the forces that profit from fear, polarization and 
division, and counter to those forces in the church that would want to retain control 
through fear. What if our ecclesiology or theology of the beloved community were built 
on the kind of trust that Mohammed Yunnus claims can revolutionize banking into a 
post-colonial project? How could religious institutions serve the people justly, especially 
those who are most vulnerable and who have suffered the most? 

Often, theology is discussed in categories, such as "God" (as in God the Father), 
"Christology," "the Holy Spirit," "the Church;" "Human Nature" and other topics, in that 
order. I am choosing to begin from "below" or from within. For those who have 
experienced systematic oppression, who are not the dominant group in some important 
way, we must start backwards, shaking it up, queering it from below. 

57 



Valuing Trust Within the Self-in-Relation 

We have to start, theologically, not with God, but with trusting the self-in- 
relation. The questioning of the category of an isolated "self has been crucial to feminist 
psychotherapy and theology for decades. When I speak of the "self," it is always through 
this understanding that the goal is not self-sufficiency or total independence, but with the 

Q 

understanding that the healthy person is one who is always seeking deeper connections. 
In religious terms, it is what Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh explains as living a life 
of "inter-being." 9 

I am one of those 21 st century Christians who thinks anything with "inter-" as a 
prefix has to be better! The religious challenge of this century for religious people will 
be to live religiously as inter-religious persons. 10 It means to live as a Christian in 
awareness, respect and appreciation of the gifts and wisdom of other faiths. Whether it is 
"inter-being," "inter-religious," or "inter-sectionality," it is a good thing. Just as the self 
is only really self-in-relation, so it is that all of our identities and theologies are shaped 
and improved in relation to others. 

What Reggie McNeal calls "self awareness," 11 means re-learning to trust myself 
in relationship to others and to "the powers that be" in the world. The damage that was 



Judith V. Jordan, Relational-Cultural Therapy (Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 
2010), 2-3. 
8 Ibid., 1. 

Q 

Thich Nhat Hanh is the author of many inter-religiously friendly books that expound on the Buddhist 
concept of "inter-being" such as The Miracle of Mindfulness (Boston, Mass: Beacon Press, 1987); and 
Peace is Every Step (Bantam Books, 1992). 

Peter C. Phan, Being Religious Interreligiously: Asian Perspectives on Interfaith Dialogue (Maryknoll, 
New York: Orbis Press, 2004). 

11 

Reggie McNeal, Practicing Greatness: Seven Disciplines of Extraordinary Spiritual Leaders (Jossey- 



Bass: 2006), 9-34. 
58 



done to many of us was damage to the sense of the image of God within us, within 
ourselves. However, we can't have God back until we have ourselves-in-relation back. 
This is where we must begin in order to queer a theology of trust. 

Learning or re-learning to trust the voice within is a key to becoming trustworthy 
as a human being, a leader, a person of faith. I was 1 1 years old when I first heard and 
trusted that Voice that I heard within me that was more-than-me. That existential 
moment meant having a Voice beyond me hear my own voice, respond, and assure me 
that I could trust my own emerging self-in-relation. It was the road I took to trusting my 
body, beginning to embrace my sexuality and truth. 

Homophobia and transphobia in particular, teach us not to trust our bodies, our 
desires, our flesh. From the time we are very young, many of us were filled with shame, 
guilt or confusion about what we felt, desired, and loved. Some of us could hide those 
feelings, and others could not. Either way, we paid a terrible price, which distorted 
reality for us, and often caused us to mistrust ourselves. Our relationships to our bodies 

IT 

themselves were suspect, distorted and disconnected. 

To be authentic and whole, Parker Palmer reminds us that we need to nurture our 
"true self," 14 which is what helps us thrive in what can be an untrustworthy world. To be 
alienated from one's deepest self is to be alienated from God, which is the primary way, 



Carol Gilligan, In A Different Voice (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1982) pioneered new 
understandings of women and psychology. Carol chose not to use the term "self," but rather "voice" to 
make it clear that 'self is a construct that contributes to a view of human consciousness that assumes one 
can be a person but not be in relationship. 

Jordan, 5. 

Parker Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward An Undivided Life (Jossey-Bass: 2004), 34- 
39. 

59 



besides physical abuse, in which LGBT people have been colonized, controlled and 

damaged. 

Charles Wesley and Self-in-Relation 

Charles Wesley's preaching and hymns were pre-occupied with the grace and 
love of God. God's universal love is trustworthy, above all else. In order to get to this 
place, theologically, which was radical in his day (and in our day, too), Wesley had to 
trust himself and his experience. He had to wrestle with trusting a new community of 
faith led by a brother he adored and with whom he had of issues of trust. He had to 
wrestle with his own vision of leadership in an emerging religious community. 

Charles Wesley was self-effacing, even shy. 15 He struggled from early on with 

mental and spiritual depression. Yet he learned to trust the prophetic Voice of God 

within him that sang hymns in his heart as well. Speaking about "self in the 1 8th century 

is complex. The concept of self that we have in the 20 th and 21 st centuries is so much 

more developed, in a psychological and cultural sense, not to say that it is a good or bad 

thing. Martin Groves comments on this dilemma: 

Thus far it has been loosely argued that there is a correspondence between 
the importance of the individual self or self-conscious soul in Charles 
Wesley's spirituality and his place in the English ascetic tradition. The 
other side of the coin. . .is that Charles is representative of a mystical, 
spiritual tradition which has at its heart the apophatic and kenotic position 
that the self is saved only when entirely lost in the unsayable love of 
God." 17 



Cyril Moxley, Apostles of Love (Oxford: Amante Press, 1992), 14. 
16 Ibid., 17. 

Martin Groves, "Charles Wesley's Spirituality," in Charles Wesley: Life, Literature and Legacy, eds. 
Kenneth G.C. Newport and Ted A. Campbell (Peterborough, UK: Epworth, 2007), 452. 

60 



A third position could be that Charles Wesley's assertion of self, and the worth of 
a single individual to God, are consistent with the emerging Enlightenment view of 
human dignity and life, and the "rights of man," precursor to what we think of today as 
"human rights," another connection to MCC as the "Human Rights Church." There is in 
Wesley's poetry and preaching valorization of every life to God, along with a self- 
effacing desire to lose himself in union with God: "lost in wonder, love and praise." 

Growing up as a United Methodist, I learned "the Wesley Quadrilateral" as a tool 
for understanding the sources of authority for faith as a Christian. These were: the 
scriptures, church tradition, science (human knowledge) and personal experience, 
influenced by the Holy Spirit. I would like to "queer the Quadrilateral" in applying it to 
MCC's emergence. 

The "experience" category is the one that validates personal experiences of 
revelation (through which Methodism was founded), and the "self-in-relation." Any one 
side of the Quadrilateral can critique or help interpret the others. It is a model that tries to 
balance these four sources of authority. 

In Rev. Troy Perry's world, and most of ours in 1968, all the sides of the 
Quadrilateral were lined up against him and us — except for one: personal experience. 
Before that moment of revelation, Troy attempted suicide. Murdering of the isolated self 
becomes the solution when it seems like something is so deeply wrong that cannot be 
cured or changed. In object relations theory, the reason children (and maybe adults too) 



18 

"Love Divine All Loves Excelling," from The New Century Hymnal (Cleveland, Ohio: The Pilgrim 
Press), 43. 

61 



attempt suicide is because they believe, rightly or wrongly, that someone, especially 
someone in authority, wants them dead. 

In 1968, at some level, most LGBT people could imagine that someone they 
admired would want them to be dead rather than "gay." The revelation that Troy Perry 
experienced was for him, as it was for me, salvation. It was what the Quakers called "the 
Inner Light," what John Wesley called the "heart strangely warmed;" and what the 
Pentecostals shouted about being "filled with the Holy Ghost." It was about the self-in- 
relation in relationship to a queer God that was able to turn the powers of this world, even 
the church, upside down, "through the foolishness of those who would believe." 

Troy Perry had a direct experience of God that contradicted everything he knew 
about being gay — that one was psychologically sick, that being gay was against the law, 
the church said it was evil and the Bible condemned it. His first sermon was not "God 
Loves Us," or, "The Bible Says We are OK;" or, "The Whole Church is Wrong;" it was, 
"Be True to You." It was about the recovery of trust in himself, that self-in-relation that 
was a gift of God, that nothing could take away. 

In the beginning, then, was the "self-in-relation" in relationship to truth. Queer 

theologian Grace Jantzen, says that the Book of Genesis is: 

the strongest possible mythological representation of difference, 
multiplicity, variety. All the infinite variety of plants and trees and 
insects, birds and animals are represented as designed by God and 
declared good. It is at the farthest possible remove from a doctrine 



19 

My source for this is a conversation, years ago, with my partner, Paula Schoenwether, who did her Ph.D. 
in psychology on object relations theory applied to lesbians. 

1 Corinthians 1 :26-29 (NIV). I cannot count how often I have preached on this passage, and how much it 
describes our experience in MCC. 

62 



valorizing uniformity: it presents diversity as a manifestation of the 

? 1 

divine. 

So why not "see" or "imagine" gender and sexual diversity beyond the binary 
categories? Why not, then, be true to ourselves, as the first theological task? 

Troy's Pentecostal experiences set him up, in a positive sense, for this 
breakthrough. Pentecostals, though mostly fundamental today, have a deep reverence 
for the Holy Spirit, which cannot be controlled. Troy learned to hear the Voice first, in 
that context. Historians and researchers speculate about the Azusa Street Revival of the 
early 20 th century: a multi-racial, barrier breaking movement that swept poor people off 
their feet, saw women empowered as leaders, and was led by gays as well. 

To begin to trust the self-in-relation also means daring to mis-trust the false self, 
the imposed views of ourselves, our identity, that we have swallowed to our detriment. 
It means being willing to be suspicious about everything one ever learned about God, 
Jesus, the Bible, what it means to be good, holy, or whole. 

Dr. Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, one of the earliest writers on the Bible and 

homosexuality and feminist scholar, writes about the experience of growing up 

fundamentalist, and the damage to the ability to trust oneself-in-relation: 

Christians, especially, will be encouraged to learn the difference between 
egocentricity and healthy self-love and self-care. For instance, one 
transman described the connection between his fundamentalist training 
and his initial repression of his trans-self. I could echo his words out of 
my own early experience of the evangelical right wing: 



Grace Jantzen, "Contours of a Queer Theology, "Literature and Theology, Vol. 15, No. 3, September 
2001,278. 

From conversations with Pentecostal leader, Bishop Yvette Flunder, who has researched Pentecostal 
founder Charles Parham and the complex and racialized sexuality of the early Pentecostal movement. 

63 



"'Fundamentalist' religion does not help you to develop your own sense 
of who you are. It's all about Jesus and forgetting yourself — you're 
regularly taught certain verses in the Bible along the lines of "Don't trust 
yourself: you're too sick and sinful to trust your own thoughts." 

More than fifteen years ago, after many years of preaching in MCC, I wrote a 
book that dared to "queer" the Bible, beyond just responding defensively to the "clobber 
passages." 24 I was inspired, in part, by my friend John Boswell, openly gay Yale 
historian whose final book, Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe, caused a huge 
ruckus. In this ground breaking work about church-sanctified gay unions a millennium 
earlier, based on translations of documents in the Vatican Library, he challenges the idea 
that gay unions are something modern or never-before sanctioned in the church. 

John told me that he began this work with an intuitive leap — he believed these 
rites and ceremonies existed, and that if he persevered, he could find them. There is a 
fine line, of course, between this kind of trust of one's intuition, and simply seeing what 
you want to see. John was meticulous in his research, and struggled to be true to his 
academic values and his passionate faith in an LGBT pre-modern history in the church. 

He told me before he died that it was as if these previously un-translated 
documents at the Vatican Library had "called" to him. Today, those recovered rites are 



Virginia Mollenkott, "Transforming Feminist Christianity," New Feminist Christianity, eds. Hunt and 
Neu, (Woodstock, Vermont: Skylight Paths Publishing, 2010), 134. 

Nancy L. Wilson Our Tribe: Queer Folk, God, Jesus, and the Bible, (San Francisco: 
HarperSanFrancisco, 1 995). The "clobber passages" are the six passages typically used by more 
conservative Christians to proof-text a negative view of the Bible and homosexuality, which we also call 
"texts of terror:" Genesis 19, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah; Leviticus 18:22 and 19:20; Romans 1:26 
and 27; 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10 (NTV). 

John Boswell was the author of Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality: Gay People in 
Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century (University of Chicago 
Press, 1980). John died of AIDS shortly after Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe (Villard Books, 
1994), was published. 

64 



used all over the world in LGBT wedding ceremonies, resonating as they do with our 
current struggle for marriage equality. John was brutally attacked by Roman Catholic 
scholars and institutions (he was a Roman Catholic), in ways that were surprising to him, 
and difficult in his last days. His connection to church history, to our nascent movement, 
motivated him to pay the price for his work. As Troy had preached, John was true to 
himself in relation to his community and faith. 
From Valuing Self-in-Relation to Valuing Others: Trust and Friendship 

Often, before there is community, there is the miracle of forming trustworthy 
friendships with at least one other person. Particularly the queer community, the idea of 
coming out to one other person, the first person with whom one is truly oneself, becomes 
a new place to stand, to gain confidence in that trust in oneself. How does one know that 
one's private revelation, one's emerging trust in one's self-in-relation is not just a 
delusion? That knowledge begins with breaking the isolation, often, in the first, tentative 
one-on-one experiences. 
Charles Wesley and Friendships 

Charles Wesley was someone who cherished and nurtured many friendships, 
primarily with men (friendships with women not in one's family were unusual). A friend 
and early biographer said he was "a man made for friendship." He wrote fifty- five 
"Hymns for Christian Friends," and hymns and poems devoted to marriage and 



Tyson, 117. 



65 



relationships. Christian friendship was part and parcel of this new movement, it was the 
air Wesley breathed, and it was the "muse" of his art. 

Charles' passionate friendships with men were intense and even stormy. His most 
important friendship was with his brother John. John was clearly the leader and 
organizer of the movement, but Charles, who married first, acted like an older brother to 
John in terms of his personal and love life. Tyson writes, "The ongoing distrust, not to 
mention the occasional animosity and open warfare, that existed between Molly Wesley 
(wife of John) and Charles Wesley had deep and lasting effects on the brothers' 
relationship for almost two decades." 

Charles' capacity for friendship drew him into ministry. One of the most 
profound accounts is of Charles' early experience in reaching out, in friendship, to men 
on death row. Franklin Wilder, citing early Methodist accounts, tells the story of Charles 
Wesley visiting Newgate Prison. Young Wesley visited the prison, and gained the trust 
often men who were condemned to death. He returned day after day, offering comfort 
and assurance of God's grace in Jesus Christ, available to all. Wesley assured them that 
only one thing was needed, faith in God's love. One prisoner finally cried out, "Even me? 
God loves even me?" When I think of the marginalization of LGBT people, and the 
criminalization of our affections and relationships, which is still the reality in many 
places in the world, I hear this cry not as something quaint, but as contemporary. 

Wesley accompanied them on the day of their execution. As Wilder tells it: 



27 mid. 

28 Ibid., 183. 

29 

Frank Wilder, The Methodist Riots: The Testing of Charles Wesley (Great Neck, New York: Todd & 
Honeywell, 1981), 8. 

66 



In those days, hanging was a favorite public sport, more popular than cock 
fighting. People expected to hear the prisoners cry and curse, not one was 
forthcoming this time. The crowd yelled their disappointment. The men 
did not pay any attention. They had eyes and ears for only Charles. At the 
last, Charles broke into a song they had sung before. All the prisoners 
joined him: 'Father of Jesus Christ, My Lord, My Savior and My Head I 
trust in Thee, whose powerful word hath raised Him from the dead.' Then 
Charles kissed each one, and got off the cart, said Wesley, 'I. . .returned 
home full of peace and confidence in my friends' happiness. That hour 
under the gallows was the most blessed hour of my life.' 

After the hanging, Charles Wesley preached from the cart to the crowd, shaming 
them, and lifting up the value of each life to God. Wesley was experimenting with a 
kind of "spiritual activism" that sought out the most vulnerable. 

In 1968, when Troy Perry had only one side of the Quadrilateral that he could 
lean on, the Voice he heard through the self-in-relation, he began pushing back and 
questioning the other sources (the Bible, tradition and science). Today they are all lining 
up with his personal experience. He sought confirmation by initiating conversation with 
friends: "Is anyone else out there?" he asked. 

Our MCC founding narrative is not about men in prison, but a young gay man, a 
friend, in a gay bar. When the bar was raided by police one night, the young man 
turned to Troy as he was being arrested and said, "See, God can't possibly love us when 
we have to go through this!" This was the moment when Troy's private revelation 
became a public matter. 



30 Ibid. 

31 Ibid. 
Grove, 447. 

Dudley Clendinen and Adam Nagourney, Out For Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement 
in America (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999), 180. 

67 



Troy Perry's friendship with Willie Smith, a young, former Seventh Day 
Adventist also pushed him out of his isolation into action. They talked endlessly about 
God and religion. This conversation sharpened and shaped Troy's own emerging 
theology, in advance of that first, public MCC service. As Troy came out of isolation 
with his emerging dream, he began to trust it more. 

In thinking about friendships, I was very intrigued with the concept, developed by 

Jean Baker Miller, of "condemned isolation:" 34 

In condemned isolation we feel immobilized, unworthy and alone, and we 
feel that we have created this reality. The individual feels that she or he is 
to blame for her or his powerlessness and hopelessness and there is 
something intrinsically 'wrong' with her or him. . ..She or he will not risk 
the vulnerability necessary to make connections. . . .Miller and Silver 
(1997) coined the term 'central relational paradox' to capture what 
happens in this situation. 

The central relational paradox," is what takes place for many girls. Bill Kondrath 

describes it this way: 

. . .girls begin to sacrifice their needs and desires in order to be in 
connection, in a culturally acceptable way with others who have more 
power that they have. . .and thus they 'keep (their) true feelings out of 
relationship to maintain some semblance or remnant of 
relationship. '...Sacrificing one's true voice for the appearance of 
relationship where you have to act less-than, results in a plummeting of 
self-worth. " 36 

This is an incredibly accurate description of so many LGBT people before 

they come out or began to form life-saving friendships. How many of us, male, 



Jordan, 28. 
* 5 Ibid. 

Kondrath, God's Tapestry: Understanding and Celebrating Differences (Herdon, Virginia: The Alban 
Institute, 2008), 160. 

68 



female, or transgender, had to hide our true thoughts and feelings in order to be 

able to stay living with our families, to survive? 

This concept also extends to groups, or communities, not only individuals. One 

of the contributing factors to condemned isolation is shame, feeling that one's "very 

being" is unworthy. Jordan notes that, 

Shaming is a powerful way to silence and isolate individuals, but it also 
plays a large role in silencing and disempowering marginalized groups 
whose members are strategically, if often invisibly, shamed in order to 

reinforce their isolation and thus their subordination: 'Isolation is the glue 

•30 

that holds oppression in place.' (Laing, 1998, presentation) 
For queer people, this isolation and relational paradox were most often broken 
first by friendships that were formed, across class, race, gender and religious lines, which 
provided support to all who would take the next steps in liberation. 

Theologically, it seems that Jesus' model of discipleship was that "discipleship of 
equals," 9 which the Gospel of John names as "friendship." 4 It is a powerful, egalitarian 
and queer- friendly model for sure. Jesus embraced a circle of friends on the margins who 
became a liberative community. And I am reminded of the way in which, decades ago 
queer folk, when referring to one's lover/partner/spouse, to both protect and to offer an 
underground "clue," said "this is my 'Friend'" with the proper emphasis! We hoped that 
those who had ears to hear would hear. For thousands of years, queer people, who felt 



Jordan, 29. 
38 Ibid. 

39 

Elisabeth Schussler-Fiorenza, A Discipleship of Equals: A Critical Feminist Ekklesia-logy of Liberation 
(New York: Crossroads, 1993). 
40 John 15: 12-15 (NTV). 

69 



alien in their families, churches and culture, sought refuge in just, redemptive, erotic 
friendships that eventually made it possible to change the world. 
From Valuing Self-in-Relation to Valuing Community and Church: Trust in 
Emerging Institutions 

It is a big leap to move from trusting one's self-in-relation, one's intimates, to 
trusting a community or church. So much of the oppression queer people experience 
comes from cultural, political and church structures, which set the rules that determine 
who was a criminal, who was moral or immoral, whose relationships were worthy of 
sanctification. 

And it is one thing to get a few friends to agree with you, to validate your beliefs 
or dreams. It is another thing to participate in the creation of "above ground" 
community, with institutions, and a culture all its own; and to challenge billions of 
Christians, and powerful church leaders to change their fundamental beliefs about you 
and your community. In order for massive social change to occur, community had to be 
birthed as strangers banded together in a new kind of broader model of friendship. As 
hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands, and more came out in those early years 
of both MCC and gay liberation, a community came into being. 
Charles Wesley, Community and Church 

John Tyson describes the early 1 8th century into which Charles Wesley was born 
as "a prosperous time for some;" 41 but, really a time when "half the nation's population 



Tyson, 3. 



70 



was becoming increasingly poorer in the midst of this period of economic expansion." 42 
This is so contemporary! How true this is of the U. S. in the last nearly forty years, as the 
rich have gotten richer, and the poor, poorer. 

Charles Wesley started out ministering to people whom he and John referred to as 
the "working poor." 43 John Wesley wrote, "I found some in their cells, others in their 
garrets, half-starved with cold and hunger added to weakness and pain. But I found none 
of them unemployed who was able to crawl about the room. So wickedly, so devilishly 
false, is that common objection: 'they are poor because they are idle.'" 44 It is painful to 
hear this same criticism of the poor in Wesley's time that we hear today. 

Charles Wesley grew up in a huge family, with both Anglican and Puritan roots, 
for whom "the day to day struggle against grinding poverty was one of the constant 
realities of life." 45 In those days, it was poor people, in wretched circumstances, who 
were seen as beyond the reach of God's saving grace, their worldly status being the sign 
of that fact. It is this belief that Charles and John Wesley literally campaigned against, 
and because of which, eventually "Methodism grew faster in the nineteenth century than 
any other Christian religion on Earth." 46 

This caused an ecclesiological dilemma that both Wesley's wrestled with for 
decades. When the "church" rejects the needs of the people, the outpouring of the Holy 
Spirit, where is the church? When does a movement become "the gathered church?" 



42 Ibid. 

43 Ibid. 

44 Ibid., 4. 

45 Ibid., 5. 

46 Wilder, 3. 



71 



Who is it that can break the Body of the marginalized Jesus, or bless the Cup of his life 
that was lived in solidarity with "the least of these?" ' The Wesley's created a movement 
that, as it grew, demanded more structure, and was held back by not being able to ordain 
ministers or serve the sacraments. 

In some ways, it is easier to trust ourselves and those close to us, than trust 
institutions. In our post-modern world, institutions are automatically suspect. Even 
though institutions, including the church, were created by selves-in-relation, the mistrust 
of corporations, institutions, and these larger endeavors is at an all time high. It is the 
reason people say, "I'm spiritual, but not religious." Somehow, being "spiritual" seems 
more like an individual or small group activity, less apt to be the locus of mischief or 
abuse. "Religion," on the other hand, seems rife with abuse, moribund rules and tortured 
logic. 

How counterintuitive it is, then, that as LGBT people came out of the closet in 
large numbers, we began creating institutions, social service centers, civil rights 
organizations, chambers of commerce, hotlines, schools and scholarly organizations, 
cultural organizations, social clubs, sporting organizations, bowling leagues, banks, and, 
yes, churches and synagogues? As a part of recovering trust, queer people had to 
experiment with creating institutions they could trust, even as they often, simultaneously, 
mistrusted what they created! I think of the Wesleys creating Methodist societies, which 
fostered orphanages, schools, burial societies and other institutions, and then struggling to 
trust what they created. 



47 Matthew 25: 40 (NIV). 



72 



There is a spectrum of religion and respectability in the queer faith communities: 
MCC is at one end of that spectrum, churches or religious organizations that grew from 
the ground up, forming churches and institutions now, by and for LGBT folks and our 
allies. At the very same time, efforts began to transform the mainstream church. 
Sometimes, MCCers resented those who preferred to push the mainstream church, seeing 
ourselves as the prophetic, righteous choice, not compromised by the s low-to-change 
pace of most institutions. Some from the mainstream churches saw MCC as not "real," 
as a temporary accommodation, that should disappear if acceptance came in many 
churches. This was also a division along class lines — the churches that tended to identify 
more as middle or upper class changed more quickly than denominations that serve the 
working class or poor. 

Today, it is possible for there to be more fluidity — MCCers can leave to join the 
United Church of Christ, or the Lutherans. Methodists and others can more easily 
transfer into MCC. MCC has a growing relationship with The Fellowship, an African 
American Pentecostal same-gender loving movement of churches, including recognizing 
each other's ministers. 

But all of us, MCC, The Fellowship, all the Open and Affirming Church 
movements, of every denomination, face the challenges of the suspicion about Christians 
and Christianity. All our churches deal with people who have been so hurt, disappointed, 
and betrayed by church, that their connection to our churches is fragile and fraught with 
lots of conflicting emotions. 



73 



One of the ways to try to understand that conflict is to try to understand the crisis 
today in the Roman Catholic Church, and to hear some of the queer analysis of that crisis. 

Dr. Mary Hunt, a feminist Catholic scholar, and a lesbian, is one of my guides in 
this area. She perseveres in her Catholic identity, while being a fierce critic of the Roman 
Catholic Church. She observes, "'Church' as the building on the corner where Father 
presides and people go on Sunday to fill up their sacramental tanks is gradually being 
replaced by house churches, small communities and other settings where people think, 
pray, and celebrate as agenda of their own spirituality." This is the "church" that 
people will trust, she claims. 

As I have been trying to understand the nature and implications of the sexual 

abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church, in relationship to a theology of trust, I 

discovered that the scandal in Ireland has been particularly severe and intense. In my 

mind, the betrayal, rage and helplessness that the people of Ireland feel about the abuse is 

not unlike the rage queer people feel towards the church. For Irish Catholics, the dam 

recently burst: 

The Irish responded to the publication in 2009 of two lengthy, damning 
reports detailing thousands of cases of rape, sexual molestation and lurid 
beatings, spanning Ireland's entire history as an independent country; and 
the efforts of church officials to protect the abusers rather than the 
victim — with anger, disgust, vocal assaults on priests in public and 
demands that the government and society disentangle themselves from the 
church. 4 



48 



Mary Hunt, "New Feminist Catholics," from New Feminist Christianity (Woodstock, Vermont: Skylight 



Paths Publishing, 2010), 271. 



49 



Russell Shorto, "The Irish Affliction," The New York Times Magazine, February 13, 201 1, 44. 
74 



Today, people in Ireland are starting to resist. "If you go around saying you're an 
ardent Catholic, people will be distrusting of you." 50 More of them will identify as 
"spiritual, but not religious," I am sure. This distrust, is healthy distrust, of course, the 
kind that signals a powerful hermeneutic of suspicion in response to the abuse and cover- 
up. It is the kind of distrust that is necessary in order to regain trust of oneself, one's 
community and even one's church. 

What made Ireland so vulnerable? One only has to look at their colonial history, 
the story of oppression and suffering, and add to it the role of the Roman Catholic 
Church, Abbot Hederman, of Glenstal Abbey explains: 

Ireland was meant to be the purest country that ever existed, upholding the 
Catholic ideal of no sex except in marriage and then only for procreation. 
And the priest was to be the purest of the pure. It's not difficult to 
understand how the whole system became riddled with what we now call a 
scandal but in fact was a complete culture, because you had people with 
no understanding of their sexuality; of what sexuality even was, and they 
were in complete power. 51 

These are astonishing words, really, not a scandal, but a complete culture steeped 

in the worst kind of abuse. Mary Hunt elaborates: 

The implosion of the Roman Catholic hierarchy over the epidemic of 
priest pedophilia and episcopal cover-ups means that Catholic women face 
new challenges.... It is clear that some of those who oppose women's full 
rights as members of the Catholic community. . .have engaged in criminal 
behavior or have covered up the criminal behavior of others. . ..The entire 
ministerial and ecclesial structure of Roman Catholicism is exclusively 
male, rigidly hierarchical, stuffed with secrecy and deception and 
rewarding of duplicity. 



50 Ibid. 

51 Ibid., 45. 

52 Hunt, 269-270. 



75 



This institutional violence of the Roman Catholic Church, towards women, 
children, and LGBT people that emanates from a sick, patriarchal structure, is an extreme 
example, but the violence happens across the board in churches. It has become obvious 
that American evangelicals, frustrated with losing the battle over LGBT civil rights in the 
US, have exported religiously based homophobic hatred to countries like Uganda, 
culminating recently in the death of gay activist David Kato and the proposing of 
draconian legislation that would criminalize sexual minorities, including the death 
penalty. 

Mainstream Protestant churches are not guiltless. Recently, I was sitting with a 
colleague from a mainstream church that had recently opened its doors more definitely to 
LGBT people, and while she was glad, she was still seething with memories of the 
decades of struggle, pain and damage. And, from the church, there is no 
acknowledgement, no apology, no sense of the new openness coming with some gesture 
of repentance, or recognition that any suffering occurred. 

So much could be said, too, of the process through which African Americans 
created their own institutions, and churches, to heal and lift the community out of the 
immense suffering and oppression caused by slavery and its aftermath. I am always 
moved by both the resiliency and fragility of that early civil rights movement, born in the 
basement of churches. 



Jeff Sharlet, "Straight Man's Burden: The American Roots of Uganda's Anti-Gay Persecutions, 
Harper's Magazine, September 2010. 

76 



From Valuing Self-in-Relation to Valuing Texts and Authorities: Trust as a 
Balancing 

Where is our hope for the church? Decades ago, Dr. Letty Russell prophetically 

proposed a "Church in the Round," a different vision of that open community of faith. 

Friends and colleagues recall her shalom meals to which she would invite students and 

colleagues, this way: 

As Letty always reminds her students in the midst of the party, what they 
are experiencing is just a brief glimpse of God's gift of shalom to all 
creation. The joyous meal offers a preview. . .of God's future. . .because 
here people gather at a round table where no one is excluded, where power 
is shared, where multiple gifts are celebrated and where those who have 
been historically marginalized are welcomed to the seats of honor... (and) 
when the marginal are invited to the table, the vision of the eschaton the 
bring is often different from the consumerist eschatology the dominant 
culture generates. 54 

This is the vision of community and church that will create and restore trust. 

Queer people of faith have had to apply a hermeneutic of suspicion to every 
human authority in order to be whole, to have justice. And we have had to learn to trust 
new authorities which we also hold accountable. 

People on the margins wrestle with accepting anything as authoritative, including 
our own experience. Any authority we accept must be accountable and responsible in 
clear ways. Sometimes oppression causes a negative reaction to all authority. I have 
heard the expression, "hurt people hurt people," and we see behaviors in MCC churches 
that are astonishing, and would probably not happen elsewhere. There are people in 
MCC, or on the margins, who take pleasure in the failure of their leaders or 



Serene Jones and Margaret A. Farley, Liberating Eschatology (Louisville: Westminster John Knox 
Press, 1999), viii. 

11 



organizations, who tear people down and assume the worst as a matter of course. 
Rejection and resistance to even lightly-worn authority with lots of accountability 
structures seems to be our legacy. 

In 1968, homosexuality was illegal, which meant the sexual behaviors themselves 
were outlawed, and homosexuals were considered a criminal class, who were, for 
instance, not permitted to assemble. The full weight of the law, mostly deriving from 
English law, undergirded the criminal status. Organized crime and vice squads preyed 
upon a frightened community. And, homosexuality was considered a mental illness. In 
the late 1960's and early 1970's, fortunately, feminists and others were calling into 
question the politics of mental illness as a tool of oppression and conformity. The 
medical establishment had used its authority to colonize homosexuals through the 
pathology label. As these structures and diagnoses started to crumble, LGBT people tried 
to heal from the systemic abuse, and the fear of the medical establishment that often 
prevented us from seeking treatment at all. 55 Today, rogue doctors and psychiatrists still 
engage in this kind of malpractice, especially in religious settings, under the guise of 
"religious counseling" or "reparative therapy," in "ex-gay" settings. 

This last of the unholy trinity of authorities lined up against us, and perhaps the 
most important one, was religion. Homosexuality was illegal, and pathological, because, 
at the core it was thought to be immoral according to the teachings of the Church, most of 
all, and other religious systems as well. 



As pastor of MCC Los Angeles, I often taught at chaplaincy training programs in hospitals, helping 
people to understand how LGBT feel when hospitalized: their fears of being mistreated by medical staff, 
and their particular fear of chaplains. We would talk about the ways in which they could communicate then- 
openness to the fact that not every patient is heterosexual. 

78 



This matrix of authorities was mutually reinforcing, of course. But, for the 

Protestants, both fundamentalist and not, it was the Bible that seemed to be the source of 

authority that most mattered. Wyndy Corbin Reuschling, wrestles with this question in 

relationship to how the Bible is used in evangelical ethics: 

The Bible is not something to be mastered and manipulated to give us the 
right answers to every question, nor ought it be reduced to an instrumental 
guide for decision making. For all of the emphasis evangelicals place on 
the authority of the Bible, this view actually reduces and diminishes the 
Bible's importance as a source for our moral lives. The Bible is 
scripture — our sacred text that we look to for understanding who we are 
and who we ought to be .... Stanley Hauerwas locates the moral authority 
of the Bible as scripture in its capacity to help us remember, reinterpret, 
and relive the story of Jesus in our communal lives: The moral use of 
scripture, therefore, lies precisely in its power to help us remember the 
stories of God for the continued guidance of our community and 
individual lives. 56 

The first book ever written in the English language on the topic of homosexuality 
was Derrick Sherwin Bailey's Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition, in 
1955. It was used to support legalization of homosexuality in the U.K. in 1957. This 
remarkable book was the only book or even scholarly article on homosexuality and the 
Bible until the publication of Troy Perry's The Lord is My Shepherd and He Knows I'm 
Gay 59 and a few other titles. Today, courses on queer studies in history, sociology, 
theology and Biblical interpretation are being taught in more and more schools and 
seminaries. Newer translations of the Bible include footnotes and annotations that 



Wyndy Corin Reuschling, Trust and Obey, 65. 

Derrick Sherwin Bailey, Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition (London, 1955). 
58 Mel White, "You Saved My Life," in Sex As God Intended (Maple Shade, NJ: Lethe Press, 2008), 231. 

59 

Troy D. Perry, The Lord is My Shepherd and He Knows I'm Gay (Los Angeles: Universal Fellowship 
Press, 1972). 

79 



question traditional interpretations of the "texts of terror." People who took on the texts 
and authorities with courage and imagination, chose to trust themselves with the texts and 
vice-versa, embodying Russell's vision that "the Bible is therefore not only a text of 
terror, but also a text of emancipatory hope." 

This kind of scholarly re-consideration and re-interpretation regarding 
homosexuality and gender identity is happening in all branches of Judaism and in 
Islamic circles as well. It is one of the most important stories of Biblical interpretation 
that spans two centuries, though word of it has not filtered to most pews. 

It is amazing that queer people have not abandoned holy texts, or faith, or the 
church or religion. Instead, many of us insisted on a conversation with all the sources of 
authority. One of my favorite, newer efforts is the one dealing with Reformed traditions 
and homosexuality that takes on the Heidelberg Catechism and the Westminster Larger 
Catechism! 61 The Scriptures and all sacred texts have to be demystified and dethroned 
before they can be embraced and appreciated. 

It is not only the Bible, but the structure of power in churches that causes mis- 
trust. Dr. Carter Heyward claims that "authoritarian power relations are the root of 
evil," rather than the "love of money," although they are inextricably connected. M. 
Scott Peck's theory is that lies and lying are the root of evil. There is a connection 
there, too, that people use lies and lying to hold on to illegitimate and abusive power. 



Jones, et al., ix. 

Jack Rogers, Jesus, the Bible and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church (Louisville: 
Westminster John Knox Press, 2009), 1 17-127. 

Carter Heyward: "The Passion of Jesus: Beyond Moralism" from Saving Jesus from Those Who are 
Right (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1999), 120. 

63 



M. Scott Peck, People of the Lie (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983). 
80 



In our queer community, those in any kind of authority position must wear their 
authority lightly. People have been bullied into being told who they are, and what to do 
with a lot of terrible results. Leadership must really arise from within the community, be 
tested and re-tested, and should understand that it leads, or governs, only by the consent 
of the governed. 

One of the recurring themes of the gospels is that Jesus' authority was "not like 
that of the scribes or Pharisees." 64 Jesus' authority came from within, from himself-in- 
relation to people hungry and thirsty for good news, for wisdom, for justice and hope. He 
was an itinerant rabbi with no position, no power in the religious hierarchy. 

MCC laity used to have a button they wore that said, "Jesus was a layperson." I 
have struggled with this all my life. I accept that I have the spiritual gift of "pastor," and 
was ordained to that pastoral ministry. But I have always squirmed with discomfort in the 
knowledge that in MCC, the only way to be a leader has been to be a clergy person, and 
that clergy are a privileged class in MCC (the exception is our new Governing Board, 
which today is half clergy and half laity, a profound shift). People in MCC tend to come 
from strong clerical backgrounds, which, though they might critique, they also long for in 
MCC. 

We all see the benefits of professionally trained clergy, who lead congregations or 
other ministries, and that has helped us grow. On the other hand, if we had invested the 
same amount of money and effort in training lay leaders, at every level, that we have 
spent in creating a clergy class, what might the results have been? Have we stifled 



M Markl:22(NIV). 



81 



MCC's growth with clericalism? Are we so attached to it now that it would be hard to let 
go of it? 

For those from a Catholic background, the authority issue concerns the legitimacy 
of sacraments, of worship, of the teaching authority of the church. Catholics, who attend 
MCC, even if they no longer go to mass, may have difficulty fully participating. Maybe 
they attend, but do not receive communion, but never formally join the church. The 
Catholic teaching they grew up with said there is no other real church, which makes 
MCC unreal to them. How can it be a real church if LGBT people are in charge, if 
women are priests? This may include people who are enraged at the Catholic Church, 
who were molested by a priest, but cannot let go of the security that even a punitive, fear- 
based system provides. 
Charles Wesley and Authority Issues 

Methodism was socially and spiritually subversive of the classism that limited the 
Anglican Church of Wesley's day. It was a force that empowered lay people, dangerous 
to a clerically privileged system. Early Methodism was characterized by its non- 
judgmental character. 5 They established orphanages and schools, fed needy families, 
employed people: "Here thieves, prostitutes, fools, people of every class — several men 
of distinction, a few of the learned merchants, and numbers of poor people who had never 
entered a place of worship, assembled in crowds and became godly." No one thought 
"these people" could be godly, or good, or trustworthy themselves. They were attacked 



65 Wilder, 14. 

66 Ibid. 

67 Ibid., 27. 



82 



at funerals, 68 beaten and stoned on the way to their services, while conducting services; 9 

70 

and their meeting houses burned down. All of this was done by people who saw the 
Wesleys as everything from papists to revolutionaries, determined to bring down 
Anglicanism: "Wesley often faced Mob violence and hospitality with no hope of 

71 

protection from the law or local authorities." 

Wesley had to let go of Anglican aspirations, as he was marginalized early on in 
the church he loved to his dying day. Since being Anglican was equated with being 
English, his patriotism was questioned as well. Wesley was charged with treason during 
the French-Scottish attempt to overthrow the King of England, and had to appear in court 
to answer the charges; and "(the Wesleys) were branded as babblers, insolent 
pretenders, papists, buffoons in religion, mountebanks in theology; visionary antics in 

7^ 

gowns and cassocks, and 'quacks in divinity:'" For Charles Wesley, brought up in an 
Anglican clergyman's home, this was a lot to take on. He was raised not to rock the boat, 
and was an unlikely revolutionary. 

In MCC we have wrestled with respectability and acceptability. We deal with so 
many people who come to MCC to heal, to come out, to re-claim their wholeness as 
people of faith, but who still cling to oppressive churches, because MCC cannot be a 
"real church," if queer people are in charge. Until recently, coming out as a gay person 
automatically lowered one's class status, especially with the associations with criminality 



68 Ibid., 30. 

69 Ibid., 33. 

70 Ibid., 34. 
Tyson, 136. 

72 Ibid., 148. 

73 Wilder, 27. 



83 



and immorality. This made MCC's respectability and acceptability a challenge, in the 
tension between assimilation and queer vision. 

Charles Wesley was scrupulous about Anglican clerical propriety. He always 
asked permission from the local Anglican priest to preach in his parish. Only when 
permission was denied, would Charles preach in other venues. As the crowds grew, they 
frightened the Anglicans and upset their class boundaries: the invitations were less and 
less forthcoming. 

But Wesley continued to attend the Anglican Church his whole life long, and only 
receive communion there. The Methodists sent new converts to Anglican parishes that 
did not want to accommodate them. They began to authorize and train lay preachers who 
had no hope of receiving orders in the Anglican Church, because of the lack of education 
and their class. 74 Over time, the lay preachers were not content to do all the work of a 
pastor without being truly ordained and authorized, and the Church of England would not 
bend. By authorizing lay preachers they had created a monster that would be out of 
their control forever. It became impossible for them to see themselves as second class, 
and as still needing the Anglican Church. 

Charles Wesley never really understood this. It is as if he was comfortable 
preaching to the poor, but when the poor wanted to take ownership of the movement, he 
could not let them have it or trust them with it. His identification with the classes above 
him was too great, his need of their approval and acceptance for him and his family too 
great to sacrifice. When John Wesley finally took authority himself, as Bishop, and 

Tyson, 187. 
75 Ibid., 217. 

84 



ordained clergy and other bishops, that went too far for Charles Wesley; and his need to 

be buried in an Anglican Church yard was too great. 

From Valuing Self-in-Relation to Valuing a Friendly God 

The difference between MCC and the fundamentalists, or those from more 
authoritarian Christian orientations, is not so much our view of humanity, our theological 
anthropology, or sexuality, but our understanding of the nature of God. Walter 
Brueggemann, in speaking about the tension between God's justice and God's freedom, 
says, "We are made in the image of some God. And perhaps we have no more important 
theological investigation than to discern in whose image we have been made." The 
theologian and pastor, Reinhold Niebuhr, in a sermon, said that Christian faith is not 
about a set of beliefs, but essentially is trust in God; and not only in God, in "the whole 

77 

realm of life." He speaks of trusting God and the Universe as a trust in the very 

7R 

adventure of life itself. And, in order to trust God, we have to have at least some of idea 
of what kind of a God this is. 

Niebuhr preached that sermon, just miles from where I was living, at age 1 1 , when 
I first heard that Voice. Listening to it, I recalled that awakening moment in my life, in 
which God said S/he was my Friend. Not that God was a loving parent, or even spouse, 
or sibling, or force, but compassionate Friend. That was the image in which I was made. 
Perhaps it was out of that existential longing to break free from condemned isolation, and 
to connect to something beyond myself, that I heard the Voice of One calling me to the 



Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination, Second Ed., (MN: Fortress Press, 2001), 8. 

Reinhold Niebuhr, a sermon, "Faith As Trust," at Union Theological Seminary, New York, 1961. EDS 
Library, cassett No. 3016. 
78 Ibid. 

85 



joy of trusting myself-in-relation to value truth, God and others. This is the great 
adventure with a trustable Universe that Niebuhr was proposing. 

For me, God's friendship meant that the world, the Universe itself, could be 
friendlier than I had imagined. This was a singular source of hope for me as a frightened 
queer adolescent in a profoundly misogynist and homophobic world. 
Charles Wesley and God 

Charles Wesley preached during the Age of Enlightenment, a time of increased 

"7Q 

religious diversity, and intellectual, rationalist critique of Christianity and the church. " 
On the one hand, the pietism of the Methodist revival is not, on the surface at least, a 
rationalist rejection of Christian orthodoxy. Methodism seems quite traditional in its 
doctrine of salvation, redemption and the cross. What differentiated Methodism from 
other movements was the insistence on the availability of God's love for all people. 
"There was at the heart of early Methodism an egalitarian mood. It extended to the 
diversity found in the congregations. . ..The belief that the gospel was for all people, not 
just the elect, was a bedrock Wesleyan assumption." 

In this theology, there is a clear rejection of the extremes of the Calvinist doctrine 
predestination, and a democratization of salvation, often mislabeled "Arminianism." In 
this way, Methodism is right in line with the political revolutions of the 1 8th century, and 
the impulse to liberate and lift up all of humanity. Charles Wesley's anti -predestination, 
thirty-six verse (!) hymn, "Universal Redemption" unmasks the hatred towards the 
"unsaved" that also ends up, functionally, as class-based hatred: "Horror to think that 

Tyson, 4. 
80 Ibid., 82. 

86 



God is hate! Fury in God can dwell! God could an helpless world create, To thrust them 
into hell! !" 81 Charles preaching was as close to heresy in his day as someone today 
preaching that God not only accepts queer people, but we are part of the wonderful 
variety of creation. 

Wesley's dilemma was the same one that Jesus confronted. In his time, poor 
people were automatically classed as "sinners," and not eligible to be included among the 
people of God. Jesus' controversial ministry centered on table fellowship with those 
labeled "sinners" and "unclean" whom he welcomed into Paradise. Hanging out with 
outcasts meant he experienced all the hatred that they experienced from religious people. 

Rev. Troy Perry, the Founder of MCC, is fond of saying, "God didn't create 
LGBT people so God could sit around and have someone to hate!" The bumper sticker 
that proclaims, "Hate is not a family value," refers to the hateful rhetoric of the religious 
right toward LGBT people and our rights. There is a powerful connection from Jesus, to 
Wesley to MCC, as we overturn the hateful theology that comes from oppression. 
Charles Wesley's life and ministry, was a journey of trust, in God and humanity: of 
broken, restored trust, and at times, unresolved trust. The most dominant pervasive 
theme in Charles Wesley's life, preaching and hymns is the absolute trustworthiness of 
the love of God for all people. Love is a synonym for trust in his theology. 

When I consider the "central relational paradox," that Jean Baker Miller talks about, 82 
I think of our relationship to God. Wesley intuitively knew that the oppressed people he 



Tyson, 103. 

82 

Jordan, 28, "Though we deeply desire and need connections, we are terrified of what will happen if we 
move into the vulnerability necessary to make deep connection, so we keep large aspects of ourselves out 
of connection. We develop strategies of disconnection." 

87 



served were held captive to that paradox. I hear the prophet Hosea talking about the way 
God is calling and reaching to us sometimes, with this painful, paradoxical result: 
"When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. But the more I 
called Israel, the further they went from me." Our relationship to God, not only to other 
people, is impacted by the fear of letting God know us, and us really knowing God. 

For many decades now, feminists and fellow travelers have been attempting to 
overthrow the centrality, in many Christian systems, of what they see as a distorted view 
of the atonement as the central, controlling idea behind Christology. Marcus Borg 
eloquently and succinctly summarizes the five major interpretations of the cross, only the 
fifth of which is really related to atonement. He says that the common, contemporary 
interpretation, "God killed the perfect Jesus to save me, because God is so just and holy 
and I am so wretchedly sinful," is perhaps only 900 years old, not authentic to early 
Christianity, to the gospels, or to the Biblical view. 

If creating and restoring friendship with God, creation and humanity is the goal of 

a spiritual life, then challenging certain theologies of atonement, or queering them, is an 

important task. The doctrine of atonement that many of us grew up with is not friendly to 

queer people, women, or poor people. Carter Heyward writes: 

The deity we must reject is the one whose power over us is imagined to be 
His love, the God who morally can destroy us. . ..Moreover, in the context 
of such distorted spiritualities, violence often is experienced as passionate 
erotic. . ..The deep roots in Christianity of a psychosexual spirituality that 
links sex and violence are being cultivated to this day by a twisted 
understanding of atonement that is assumed by most Christians to be right 



83 



Hosea 11:1 and 2 (NIV). 



Marcus Borg, The Heart of Christianity (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2003), 92-96. 
88 



and central to Christian faith.... True atonement is the liberation from the 

oc 

powers of evil through God's passion working in our lives. 

Of. 

Marie Fortune, founder of the Faith-Trust Institute, in contrast to Borg, says that 
the dominant Christian paradigm of atonement is foundational to Christianity, which may 
be the perception. She sees a dynamic connection between this doctrine and the problem 
of sexual abuse in the church and in Christian cultures: "The teachings and practices of 
the Christian faith have and continue to be a part of the problem of violence against 
women and children (I would add people of color, poor people, LGBT people) and we 

87 

have begun to deconstruct these teachings and practices." 

Poor Jesus. I think of how much gets projected onto him, and I wince. He is the 
"greatest salesman ever," the quintessential Jim Collins level five leader, a left-wing 
revolutionary, a purpose-driven Savior, a feminist, a liberating black revolutionary, the 
atonement for all our sin, the re-definer of atonement as fighting the structures of evil, 
and, of course, queer. It is a testament to the power of the enduring Jesus story that he is 
so able to be transformed by our desire to identify with him. There are days I comfort 
myself with the belief that Jesus was also harassed, bewildered, overwhelmed, and 
questioning his mission and his choices. That there were times he had no idea what he 
was doing, or why. I also appreciate Mark Jordan's important question of queer 
incarnation, "If Jesus' body was God's body, how do we begin to tell truths about it?" If 



85 

Heyward, 175-176. When I read John Start's book Atonement and read his chilling vision of the perfect 
God who could only be "satisfied" with a perfect bloody offering, I knew why so many of the evangelicals 
come to MCC plenty bloodied themselves. 

86 

The Faith-Trust Institute does research, analysis and consulting around sexual and domestic violence in 
faith communities. 

87 

Marie M. Fortune, "Seeking Justice and Healing: Violence Against Women as an Agenda for Feminist 
Christianity", from New Feminist Christianity, eds. Hunt and Neu, (Woodstock, Vermont: Skylight Paths 
Publishing, 2010), 148. 

89 



Jesus was God with skin on, and skin is a metaphor for trust, how is Jesus the locus of 
trust in the human/Divine connection? 

At the intersection of queer incarnation and atonement, I find Kittredge Cherry's 

oo 

queer vision of Jesus, in the series, Jesus in Love challenging. She wrote the books, 

which portray Jesus in erotic friendships, as a way to open to God's healing of her body 

from chronic illness. 89 

Through the writing process, I grappled with why an all-powerful, all- 
loving God would let people suffer, a question that felt immediate and all- 
consuming as I struggled daily with debilitating fatigues and pain. The 
sexuality aspect (of Jesus) came naturally and served as a respite from the 
thorny theodicy issue (in her own inner dialogue). ... Jesus says I lived my 
life as a love letter to people in the future. You can help deliver it. 

Cherry's quite graphic account of the crucifixion does not embrace atonement theology at 

all, but sounds more like the medieval mystics. She imagines Jesus' transformation of his 

own suffering, on the cross, in union with God this way: 

In my own personal dreamscape, I offered my divine heart as a meal for 
all human souls throughout time as I stretched and spread open on the 
cross. I wasn't sure who to feed first: the lonely who crave love, the 
heart-broken who fear love, or those who have been loved so well that 
they smile in trust at the demons who try to destroy them. Eventually they 
all came and gorged themselves. Some felt like ravenous ghosts with 
beaks and talons, but I wasn't afraid. I knew that my heart was endless 
and that every being was my own creation. 91 

Feminist theologian Kwok Pui Lan pushes us to move beyond doctrinal 
discussions to a different vision of incarnation. "To connect the centuries old Christian 
misgivings about the body, I am proposing that we understand the Christian notion of 



88 

Kittredge Cherry, Jesus in Love: At the Cross (Berkeley: Andro/Gyne Press, 2008). 
89 Cherry, 10-11. 
Cherry, 11. 
Cherry, 221. 

90 



incarnation not as a religious belief, but as a spiritual practice. Incarnation is the divine 
meeting the body so that the body can fully reveal the grace of God." 

Sometimes, it has seemed to me that some of the discomfort about atonement has 
been about body itself, its messiness, what happens when bodies suffer. Our theology 
cannot be so sanitized that it cannot include body, sexuality, pleasure, pain or suffering. 
There is much that is rich and powerful in the image of a vulnerable Jesus, who risks 
everything, trusting himself-in-relation to his destiny, his ministry, his faithfulness to the 
One who sent him, and to those to whom he was sent. So much of the pain in the world is 
bodily pain, the result of preventable violence. This daily crucifixion of so many is not 
something we can just turn away from, and call ourselves followers of Jesus. 

Practicing incarnation as the way we heal our trust and friendship with God, 
creation and humanity, is the way of justice and of any viable future of a Christianity 
Jesus might recognize. 

Today, the world of queer faith and Christianity looks so different, globally, than 
forty years ago, when no one imagined gay marriage or an MCC in Pakistan. Movements 
led by young queer people, yearning for an opportunity to live in freedom, with human 
rights, and the right and opportunity to practice their faith and spirituality is the present 
and future. 

Today, the Arab world, in particular, is erupting from the ground up, as people 
throw off decades, even millennia, of oppression. The rest of the world watches in hope 
and fear. Kwok Pui Lan prophesies, "The future of feminist Christianity is not located at 



92 

Kwok Pui Lan, "A Post-Colonial Feminist Vision for Christianity," from New Feminist Christianity, " ed 
Hunt and Neu, (Woodstock, Vermont: Skylight Path Publishing, 2010), 8. 

91 



the center of the bureaucratic church, but at the margins and in other subversive 
spaces." That is the future of queer Christianity as well. The future depends on hope for 
those who have had no hope, including queers, women, and the majority of those in the 
world suffering from poverty, racism and injustice. The intersectionality of all things, of 
all oppression and liberation, is key to changing the world. 

This will be the century of queer folk, rising out of silence and "condemned 
isolation," into a place of friendship with the self-in-relation, with other, with church, 
with the authorities we claim and choose, with God, with the future God holds open for 
us. It is time for us to claim our place as trustworthy leaders, in the church and the world. 



Kwok, 5. 



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CHAPTER FOUR 

THE PRACTICE OF BECOMING/CREATING TRUSTWORTHY LEADERS IN 

METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CHURCH 

In late 2008, one of the goals stemming from my 360 degree evaluation 1 was to 
begin to work on succession planning for my position as Moderator, and for the Elders 
and senior leadership of MCC. Rev. Elder Don Eastman, my colleague on the Board of 
Elders for decades, was my evaluator/consultant. He was particularly concerned that as I 
begin my next term as Moderator, with a view to retiring from that position in 2016, that 
I focus more of my attention on leadership development as a part of that succession 
planning. 

In early 2009, 1 began to work on the idea for a Leadership Mentoring Retreat, in 
the context of my research on trust and trustworthy leadership. We held the first retreat 
in January 2010, the second in January 201 1, with a goal of holding two per year, for the 
next six years, for at least 200 people in total. 

This is something Troy Perry would never have done. As an entrepreneur he did 
not see the necessity for a process for leadership development. He is a "bootstraps" 
leader — either you are a leader, or you are not! Not that he didn't mentor anyone — he just 
did not take a systematic approach to it. Mentoring was not front and center for him: it 
happened on the side, in the process of shaping the movement. True to a being a founder, 
he never had an evaluation of any kind. 



MCC Elders and Senior Leaders have what is called a 360 evaluation for professional development at 
least once every three years. This kind of evaluation includes input from one's supervisor, peers, 
colleagues, those one supervises, and those in the field who are served by one's ministry. From that 
evaluation, a plan with specific goals for professional improvement and personal growth is developed for 
which one is accountable. 

93 



There is no question that my desire to do this work around mentoring trustworthy 
leaders is also influenced by feminist theology, psychology and politics, and my personal 
style. I enjoyed teaching and mentoring, and nurturing new leaders as a pastor, and I love 
doing it in this new role. As I have grown into the role of Moderator these last five years, 
I have been motivated to find, nurture, call out, and encourage level five leaders, those 
who have that key mix of personal characteristics and gifts described by Jim Collins, for 
MCC's long term future. 2 

As an admirer of Mohammed Yunnus, I was sobered by reading about his recent 

troubles in the courts of Bangladesh. This Nobel Peace prize laureate and founder of 

microcredit is 70 years old. A recent news article states: 

Lost in the talk of politics is a more complex question: how to ensure that 
Grameen Bank, which has 8.3 million borrowers, has loaned $10 billion 
and has become an indispensible part of Bangladesh's social and 
economic fabric, outlives its charismatic founder? Mr. Yunnus is now a 
decade beyond the bank's mandatory retirement age, and apparently there 
is no successor in sight. Long-serving internal candidates that might have 
replaced Mr. Yunnus as the bank's managing director after his retirement 
have departed acrimoniously. 

I do not want such an article to be written about me, or MCC. When I retire at 66 
as MCC Moderator, I want to know that there are many excellent candidates for our top 
leadership positions, who will be faithful to MCC's legacy, but bold enough to help re- 
shape it for the future. Bill Kondrath says, "Perhaps the most significant transition in a 
religious community is the transition from a charismatic founder to the next 



Jim Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap. ..And Others Don 't (New York: 
Harper Business, 2001), 20. 

Lydia Polgree, "Microcredit Pioneer Faces an Inquiry in Bangladesh," The New York Times, Sunday, 
January 30, 2010, 19. 

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generation... (which is) not merely a shift in who is the leader, but an organizational 
shift." 4 In some ways, even with the preparation we did for Troy's retirement, it is only in 
my second term that these organizational shifts are being implemented and embraced. In 
addition, Troy's tenure was very long, thirty seven years, and, though I am so different 
from him, I am from the same founding generation. 5 It is the next Moderator and top 
leadership that will really embody a new generation of leadership altogether. So, for 
MCC, maybe it will take two leadership changes to make that transition! 

This was the motivation to develop a diverse faculty that helped shape a high- 
quality Leadership Mentoring Retreat which would inspire lay and clergy leaders to 
intensify a journey in MCC leadership. The design of this program required each person 
to apply. The applicants themselves need to take that first step. They have to have some 
inkling, some impulse or motivation to pursue this dream. Some have long held hopes or 
ambitions of being an MCC leader; others had not really considered this option before. 
For some, the decision to apply was the beginning of the adventure. 

In late 201 1, we will hold a special Leadership Mentoring Retreat for young 
adults, thirty-five years old and under, for the first time. We hope to focus one retreat a 
year on young adults for several years. 

With my learning and reflection on MCC's culture and role in history; learning 
about organizations and trust; mining of theological resources; and in view of the present 



Kondrath, "Transitioning from Charismatic Founder to the Next Generation," 83. 

This came home to me at a recent trip to the White House, when I was being introduced, incorrectly, by 
LGBT religious leaders (I am probably the oldest and most senior in leadership person in that group) to 
White House staff as the person, who with Troy Perry, founded MCC! I was momentarily horrified, until I 
realized that for everyone around that table, that was their perception, even though I came into MCC four 
years after MCC started. Most of them were children, some not born, when that happened. That includes 
the White House staff! 

95 



realities of MCC and the need for greater organizational, institutional trust, these are the 

principles I have distilled. 

Trust Principles and Applications for Leadership Training and Development in 
MCC 

Trust is a dynamic that happens (or not!) in authentic relationship, rather than an 

individual character trait. It is a "we" not and "I" phenomenon. It is born of 

"subject/subject" relationships, not in objectifying relationships. It is the result of what 

Martin Buber called the "I-Thou" relationship, and how Jesus positioned relationship 

with him "love one another as I have loved you;" "inasmuch as you have done it to the 

least of these, you have done it to me." Trust requires the awareness of self- in relation I 

talked about in last chapter, which opens to awareness of the other. 

TASK: All leaders need to learn about the dynamics of trust, and building 
trust. Becoming trustworthy is a skill that begins with awareness of self- 
in-relation, and can be learned. * It must be learned in the context of 
building relationships, often across boundaries. In MCC, it is about 
repairing trust in individuals and communities. It requires practicing being 
vulnerable; and recognizing that those who have core character or 
psychological problems with trustworthiness (who are often attracted to 
church life) need to be screened for leadership positions and/or monitored 
carefully. 

Trust requires sophisticated power analysis: understanding social location, the 
dynamics of oppression; postcolonial analysis; racism, etc. Without attending to these 
issues, trust may build prematurely or superficially. This takes time, practice and 



Wonhee Anne Joh, "Violence and Asian American Experience: From Abjection to Jeong," Off the Menu 
(Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2007), 151. 

7 Martin Buber, I and Thou (New York: Scribners, 1970), p. 3. 

8 John 15:12 (NIV). 

9 Matthew 25:40 (NIV). 

Stephen M.R. Covey, The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything (New York: Free 
Press, 2006), 25. 

96 



intentionality. Using a methodology such as the well-established VISIONS, Inc., 11 

training program, or proven diversity training, and updating, is essential. It also requires 

risk to move out of one's comfort zone, to ask questions about privilege, about the 

structures of power in one's own organization, or the ways in which rhetoric and reality 

do not match. 

TASK: Trust for MCC leaders requires understanding and engaging these 
issues, and continuous learning. It means learning and internalizing MCC 
values, guidelines for recognizing and values differences, as a core 
competency in our organization, all of which impact and improve trust. 
Embracing diversity as a gift to be cherished. 

Trust begins with appreciating differences, which makes them liberating, not just 

1 "K 

appropriating or "borrowing" them. In one sense, this is the queerest feature of creating 

trust: that trust is needed because there is some difference or barrier to overcome, some 

way in which we are not just identical. Trust requires that we go against the grain of 

"homogenization," and actually seek to create bridges across small or profound 

differences. One of our interesting challenges is generational: we are trying to welcome a 

new generation of younger people whose sexuality is more fluid, who do not care as 

much about the "LGBT" label, who are as likely to be socially connected in ways that 

were not as common with my generation. 

TASK: Especially as a queer community that is changing, to implement 
diversity training at all levels; making sure that core to our training is 
understanding a vision of a post-colonial reality. To not seek to clone 



Kondrath, God's Tapestry, 258. 

Ibid., 4 -5. The guidelines are: Try on; It's Ok to disagree, it's not okay to shame, blame or attack oneself 
others; Practice self-focus; Practice 'both/and' thinking; Be aware of intent and impact; Take 100 percent 
responsibility for one's own learning; Maintain confidentiality; It's OK to be messy; Say ouch. 

Jung Ha Kim, "Spiritual Buffet: The Changing Diet of America," Off the Menu (Louisville: Westminster 
John Knox Press, 2007), 80-81. 



97 



ourselves, or to make everyone in the world "like us." To help those 
aspiring to be leaders to confront their need to unlearn racism, sexism, 
homophobia, adultism, and other patterns of thought and behavior that 
stigmatize difference. 

Healthy trust must be balanced with healthy mis-trust (or suspicion). To really 
trust authority means to be able to question it and the dominant narrative. We must 
question people, sources, texts, institutions, traditions, our own experience, etc., with our 
own "hermeneutic of suspicion." Problems often arise when we either trust too glibly 
without questioning, are perhaps lazy about doing our homework; or mis-trust as a matter 
of habit or course, rather than risk trusting reasonably. This is a challenge in a culture 
where we tear down leaders rather than lift them up. MCC leaders often feel the sting 
from those who are either envious, or who think it is their role to keep us humble, or to 
bring us down. On the other side of it, there is a hunger to have heroes, and people in our 
community to elevate and admire. So, it is the pedestal or the trash heap. There are many 
who aspire to be leaders, just so they will feel worthy, or included, which is not a healthy 
reason. There are others who make a career or cause of harassing and battering leaders 
they believe should not be leaders. 

While I know this happens in all denominations, I observe it too often in MCC. 
The whole community may be held hostage by someone who needs to leave the church 
and get a life, but thinks destroying a pastor or a church is their true purpose. MCC 
pastors and leaders struggle to dis-engage from such people, and it is difficult. Normal 
measures for dealing with conflict sometimes do not work. On the other hand, the 
pedestal can be seductive as well. Getting to a more balanced view of leaders, of 



98 



ourselves as leaders, is important. My friend, Fr. Malcolm Boyd was fond of saying of 

LGBT leaders, "We ought to be a little careful about believing our own press releases." 14 

TASK: Resist collapsing the polarity, and allow the tension between 
healthy trust and mis-trust to be a place of growth and creativity. Take 
risks, but also ask the right questions, insist on answers. Support leaders 
and hold them accountable. Hold all members accountable for behaviors 
that bless and do not tear down leaders or communities. 

Trust must be grounded in truth, truth telling, and truth receiving. Borrowing Dr. 

Kwok Pui-lan's phrase, "sanctioned ignorance," we must insist on creating a big 

enough context so as not to trivialize what is at stake in any relationship or endeavor. 

Whether this is talking about the realities of the suffering of women seduced into sex 

tourism, or acknowledging that "Christian Mission was a colonial project," 16 or 

understanding the nuances of dealing with sexual minorities and law reform in Jamaica, 

Pakistan or Uganda, the complexity of truth must be taken seriously. 

TASK: reward truth-telling, even when it is institutionally awkward or 
painful. Do not punish truth-tellers. Work on strategies for telling and 
hearing difficult truth. Help leaders accept that they must have truthful 
feedback and alternative points of view must be welcome for a system to 
stay healthy and engaged. Skillful truth-telling is core to supporting the 
"prophetic imagination" of any church. Overcome sanctioned ignorance 
by cultivating curiosity about the world and the many contexts in which 
MCC is finding itself and growing. 

Trust requires humility, the capacity to listen deeply, the willingness to be held 
accountable, and to learn from mistakes. Shannon Clarkson speaks of Letty Russell's 



Malcolm Boyd, private conversation. 
Kwok, from a lecture at EDS on post-colonial theory, 2009. 

Letty Russell, "God, Gold, Glory and Gender: A Postcolonial View of Mission," International Review of 
Mission, 93 (2004), 41. 
Walter Brueggeman, The Prophetic Imagination, Second Edition, (MN: Fortress Press, 2001). 

99 



understanding of the "constructivist and transformational" nature of education; 18 and the 

ways in which the work of liberation is "a grand letting go." 19 Education is a humbling 

process, as we are introduced to all we do not yet grasp. Russell trusted the process of 

liberative education that humbles one in the process, which includes the letting go of 

assumptions, "unlearning," and letting go of power and privilege. Jim Collins, guru of 

business and organization success, talks about this in terms of humility as the hallmark of 

a "level 5 leader." 20 

TASK: Cultivate humility, accurate self-awareness, in leaders. Help 
leaders to see themselves as encouragers of their successors and future 
colleagues. Help MCC leaders to understand the seduction of power and 
privilege, sometimes cleverly masked in an emerging institution like ours, 
that does not see itself as possessing or conferring such power and 
privilege-not true! A liberated leader is a humble leader, willing to let go, 
delegate, and hand over power and responsibilities to others who have 
been prepared to lead. 

Trust encourages the testing and sharing of values. How do we answer the 
question, "What is liberating?" unless we have shared language about values? How can 
we foster trust, unless we explore what is most dear to us, spiritually, and in all ways? I 
have often thought that what holds MCC together is not so much our common doctrine, 
or liturgical practice; but our "founding narrative," and the core spiritual values that are 
our passion in ministry. I think of Letty Russell's clearly expressed value of a "feminist 



1 R 

Shannon Clarkson, "Translation, Education and Liberation," Liberation Eschatology: Essays in Honor of 
Letty M. Russell, eds. Serene Jones and Margaret A. Farley (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 
1999), 9. 

Clarkson, 12. 

Jim Collins, 39. 

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7 1 

missiology based on God's mission as a gift of welcome for all in each place.''''' With the 

enormous diversity in theology, church background, culture, language, etc; what holds 

MCC together is the sense of participation in God's holy history and justice-movement, 

and those core values. 

TASK: Identify those core values and founding narratives, test them, and 
question them as part of the process of creating trust. This must include 
processes to acknowledge failure, and promote forgiveness, and 
restoration of relationship. Trust requires authenticity, patience and 
perseverance over time. It has become clear to me that MCC is not for 
everyone. There are people who are too wedded to a denominational 
culture or structure from which they came, or some doctrine or belief that 
they need all of MCC to share. Others are not willing to pay the cost 
associated, still, with being part of an "Upstart Denomination from the 
Margins." 22 

Trust is ultimately fruitful. Trustworthy leaders foster trustworthy organizations 

and institutions, which can be fruitful and liberative. Whether the "fruit" is a food pantry, 

a "safe house" for activists; a common meal; an organization to save the environment, or 

one that seeks to articulate a new theology, trustworthy relationships undergird them all. 

For MCC this is clearly illustrated by the work being done to form our Global Justice 

Institute. We are beginning to see the fruit of many years of building relationships with 

human rights organizations that were suspicious of churches. We learned to work with 

other LGBT religious groups that had less international experience than MCC, but many 

resources to contribute. As we have put the needs of activists in the field first, and 



M. Shawn Copeland, "Journeying to the Household of God," Liberation Eschatology: Essays in Honor 
ofLetty M. Russell, ed. Serene Jones and Margaret A. Farley Russell (Louisville: Westminster John Knox 
Press, 1999), 41. 

Craig Van Gelder, The Missional Church and Denomination: Helping Congregations Develop a 
Missional Identity, Missional Church Series. (Grand Rapids, Mich: William B. Eerdman's Publishing, 
2008), 33. He says that "Upstart Denominations from the margins. . .provide identity and often access to 
the broader society." 



101 



worried less about who gets credit for doing what, we have strengthened our credibility 

and gained greater capacity to make a meaningful contribution. In addition, one of the 

things that it is hard for us to do is to stop and celebrate success, to really take in all that 

has been accomplished. 

TASK: Identify and celebrate the fruits of trustworthy leadership, building 
a trustworthy institutional style, and partnership. And persevere. Find 
ways to stop and reflect, and enjoy the fruit! 

The Recent MCC Context for Using and Evaluating these Principles: 

In 2008, MCC's leadership began a process to review the present MCC global 
structure, which had been implemented in 2002 and 2003, in anticipation of the 
retirement of our founder, Rev. Troy Perry. In some ways, we intuitively knew that "what 
needs to take place is a shift from trust in the leader to confidence in the community, its 
goals and structure." 

As Moderator, with input from our senior leaders, I appointed a team of people 
we believed to have a high level of trustworthiness, both lay and clergy. They had served 
the denomination for a long time, understood the values and the structure, but were not 
necessarily seen as "in the pocket" of the Moderator, Elders or other leaders. These were 
people who would take the task to heart, listen to others, to "the grassroots," and who 
would tell us the truth as they saw it, and stand up to us if necessary. 

We created this Structure Review Team (SRT) in late 2008, with a simple charge 
and mandate. They had about a year to do their work: to review all aspects of the 



Kondrath, "Transitioning from Charismatic Founder to the Next Generation," 96. 
102 



structure, to conduct surveys and interviews, and to make recommendations to the Elders 
and Board of Administration for a vote at General Conference 2010. 

With the changing economy, in advance of that final report, during 2009, with the 
support of the Board of Administration, I had to downsize the senior leadership of MCC 
by about one third, make other staff cuts, as we struggled to manage finances and balance 
out the work. 

I knew that some in MCC might see this in a conspiratorial way, as though we 
were "pre-empting" changes we might be anticipating from the SRT. We assured them 
that that was not true, and included the SRT as we went along, so they would understand 
the temporary changes and not be taken off guard. However, right up until the proposals 
were considered by Conference, there were a few, loud, persistent voices that tried to call 
into question the integrity of our process because we had made these needed adjustments. 

The SRT came to us in December of 2009 with their recommendations. This was 
a very committed team. Because of the financial crisis, we had not funded them to meet 
face to face, yet they met, paying their own way. They were deeply invested in the work, 
and I knew there would be disappointment if we did not embrace their recommendations 
wholeheartedly. They understood that the Elders and Board of Administration had 
complete authority to use or disregard their recommendations, and said they were fine 
with reporting to us and letting go, but I knew they were very passionate about what they 
thought were the key diagnostic issues, and the key solutions. I was uncomfortable, as 
well, with the fact that we had not properly funded their work, and that they had made 
serious personal investments. How easy would it really be to let go? 

103 



In addition, two people on this team were veterans from a former group that had 
made some suggestions to the leadership about five years ago. These suggestions did not 
take into account the financial constraints at that time. That was not communicated well 
at all, and the fact that their research and suggestions seemed to be dismissed casually, 
caused negative feelings that had not been resolved. It was very important, whatever the 
outcome, for them to trust this process. Their experience the last time was that it appeared 
as if the Elders and Executive Director had had an outcome in mind, and they really did 
not want to hear the team's input. I had to assure our SRT that the Elders and Board of 
Administration had no pre-conceived notions this time. I was able to help the Elders 
really stick to this. The Board of Administration did end up sending their own ideas about 
the review and restructuring, as a "package," which the SRT felt was a little more 
meddling than they wanted. But, the SRT was grateful that the Elders, the more 
influential group, did not come to them with our own restmcturing document, but let 
them do their work first. 

As it turned out, there was a lot we liked in the final SRT recommendations, 
especially in their diagnosis and key points. And, there were some key, crucial 
disagreements. We were under the pressure of time to announce proposals, so they could 
be reviewed by MCC churches and leaders before our Conference in July of 2010. MCC 
churches had a history of being cranky about making major changes without enough time 
and consultation. Of course, the internet, and the speed at which information can now 
flow helps improve the timeframes in which information and ideas can be absorbed. 
Because of economics, the fact that we have fewer face to face meetings means that the 

104 



kinds of negotiating that used to happen over a longer time, with more face to face 
meetings cannot happen. 24 Could people adjust to a newer way of doing things, embrace 
more frequent, faster internet connections, and could we use that to build trust, in the 
absence of as many face to face opportunities on the grand scale? 

We did hold many, smaller, face to face meetings at the level of congregations 
and smaller gatherings of 10 to 15 congregations to consider and give feedback to the 
proposals. That helped a lot, and maybe helped us make a cultural shift: Often, major 
changes required approval by the General Conference, which used to take three to four 
years. Since Conferences now happen only once every three years, can the internet, our 
smaller church Networks, improve the sense of access and communication, of sharing of 
information, that can create more trust and speed up the process? Kondrath notes that 
these kinds of face to face meetings I describe "are not simply about change, they are a 
part of the change. They are the beginning of a structural shift." In so far as people 
began to see that their feedback and responses were included in the final product, that 
they felt listened to, and still had enough time to consider all the implications, it did 
work. 

The Elders and Board of Administration, amazingly, agreed on what we liked and 
did not support in the SRT proposal. We created an alternative document to share with 
the SRT, to allow them time to respond. They did, without a lot of enthusiasm, and with 
considerable push back. This worried me, because I did not want us to ignore their 



Kondrath talks about the importance of "opportunities for face to face meetings where people can ask 
questions and engage one another around issues of resistance and opposition," "Transitioning," 98. This 
made me wince, we really have embraced this so much more in our new system. It was the last few months 
of face to face smaller meetings, in fact, that were the key to the proposal passing, I am sure. 
25 Ibid, 99. 

105 



feedback, and ideally I wanted to come into Conference saying that all three groups were 
in support of the proposal. 

Our boards had the authority simply to take their proposal and amend it, and 
move it on. But the SRT was disappointed, not sure they were heard in all aspects. We 
could sense their frustration. While there was pressure to move on, I decided instead, to 
honor the amazing research they had done, and their creativity, and to take one 
additional, cautious step. This, I think, was perhaps the most important action that created 
trust across the board in our leadership, even though it also created some anxiety about 
meeting our deadlines, so that we could give the delegates to conference enough time to 
consider and give feedback. 

This was a choice about creating more trust in the people who would have to 
campaign for this proposal, or to push forward more quickly with a proposal that did not 
have enthusiastic support all the way around. And, at the time, no one was sure that we 
could get there, even with a consultant. 

We slowed down the process by a month, invested precious dollars, belatedly, and 
hired a consultant from Alban Institute to meet with representatives from the Elders, the 
Board of Administration and the SRT. As we did this, it was so clear to me, in 
hindsight that we should have done this months before. That was a huge learning. In 
some ways, we had let the SRT down by not adequately funding their work in the first 
place, and not providing an outside consultant who could help them in the initial phases 



Ibid., 84. Kondrath also emphasizes the importance of using outside consultants for this kind of key 
transition work. This was a lesson I especially internalized this round. 

106 



of their work. In some sense, slowing the process down was an attempt to restore some of 
that trust. 

Working for two very intense days, the joint team that represented all of the 
leadership groups came to a unified plan that all of us felt good about, and that we were 
confident our groups would endorse. Our consultant had wisely taken the things we 
agreed on, built on that, and then did some education in areas where we had 
disagreement, pushing us through to resolution. One of the things she did that helped 
enormously was to educate us about church polity, and help us recognize the gifts, 
strengths and even contradictions of our hybrid model. She also helped us to see how 
much trust had been broken around not adhering to some key financial principles. This 
really influenced our final decisions, and the work of our new Board. 

Rev. Elder Don Eastman, semi-retired, but helping to staff the SRT, at that face to 
face meeting offered a key theological insight around MCC's culture, how we embrace 
spiritual leadership roles, and how we should integrate that into our new system. His 
clear presentation was convincing to some who perhaps wanted a more purely non-profit 
or corporate model. Don's role as a senior statesman was so helpful — perhaps because 
we are still young to have very many of them, and because so many who would have 
been those senior statesmen, especially men, died. Everyone sees Don as an ally, as 
rooted deeply in the values of MCC, as wise, practical and theologically "centrist." 

Within a month, we refined and published the draft version that went to the 
churches for review. Almost immediately, I could tell that it hit a nerve, and was going 
to pass. 

107 



Embedded in the proposal were some long-needed correctives, that were all about 
creating and sustaining trust: better financial accountability and transparency and learning 
to live within our means in challenging financial times. We replaced large regions that 
did not provide a real sense of care and connection with much smaller, manageable, 
volunteer lead "networks" that could gather more frequently and provide meaningful 
church-to-church connections. We also created clarity in the overall governing structure 
that parallels the local church structure which everyone in MCC already understands. 

The leadership, including the SRT, took the proposal "on the road," to churches, 
conferences, and network meetings, and got people on board. We entertained revisions, 
amendments, additional ideas, and suggestions, all of which continued to be addressed by 
a drafting team. In truth, that deep, high-level of interacting, real listening, which took a 
lot of time and commitment from all of our leadership, improved trust. By the time the 
General Conference happened, many people could see the ways in which they had helped 
to improve the plan, which created more broad ownership. In this way we were really 
trying to both overcome the "habit" of unhealthy mis-trust, while also encouraging 
everyone who could to participate in questioning and improving the proposal. We spent 
many, many hours answering questions that came to us online, or in person at these face 
to face meetings. 

One of the things I would do, at these gatherings, after explaining the proposal, 
and answering questions, was to ask their permission to share my perspectives and 
feelings, as the person who would have the privilege and responsibility to manage this 
new structure for its first few years. In every case, people were respectful and eager to 

108 



hear. I did not pretend to be neutral about the proposal. Interestingly, and so germane to 
this project, was that one of their major concerns was that this proposal did give more 
authority and responsibility to the Moderator, especially in choosing top leadership. 
They would all insist that they had no issues with trusting me about this, but what about 
my successor? I told them that it did tell them something about what they would be 
looking for in my successor, and the need to have good checks and balances, which I 
think the new system does have. And, it was about trusting themselves to make a good, 
next choice. 

We then made a decision to take the additional risky step of preparing to 
implement the new Board structure immediately. Our present Board of Administration 
was demoralized, frustrated and happy to let go. We did not feel that our present structure 
should continue on when we all felt it was not working. We needed to get that new Board 
structure firmly in place by the end of Conference. 

In the past, sometimes, MCCer's did not take kindly to leadership overstepping its 
bounds. Going ahead and creating a Nominating Team, securing candidates, was all 
based on the assumption the proposal would pass. We did not want that to deprive the 
Conference of its authority. At the same time, we now have conferences only once every 
three years, and if we passed the proposal, and were not prepared to also elect a new 
Board, we would miss the best opportunity to implement the new structure and move 
forward. The risk was that we would have wasted our time in a nominations process. 

In one sense, this was asking MCC to trust our own processes. The proposal had 
come from feedback that they had faithfully given; and we were doing everything to 

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make sure we had a proposal that had widespread support from our churches. We were 
more and more confident that the proposal would pass. And, because the new proposal 
hinged on having excellent, authorized leadership for this new Governing Board, it 
seemed irresponsible not to proceed with a nominations process. 

Many who liked the proposal, and the new, unified board structure, that was to be 
50/50 clergy and laity, were also skeptical that we could get eight qualified people to 
serve on this board. That, in some ways, was a measure of a poor, organizational self- 
perception. If we could not entice eight highly qualified people to lead our denomination, 
we were in really deep trouble. I did not believe for one minute that that would be our 
problem. 

We did have a terrible time, in the past, recruiting for the Board of 
Administration. That was because people did not understand the authority or 
responsibility of that board, and because we had not invested enough resources in training 
and supporting their work. The lines of authority, decision making and accountability 
were convoluted. This made it an unattractive volunteer opportunity. 

Once that clarity was offered up in the new proposal, we got a very healthy and 
robust response from well-qualified candidates. When this happened, I knew that the 
proposal would pass! If good, qualified people in MCC were hopeful enough to apply, 
this would give hope to the clergy and delegates. The number and quality of applicants 
itself was a powerful sign to me that MCC was ready to mature as an organization, and to 
empower, not frustrate, trustworthy leaders. The clarity and simplicity of the proposal 
itself pushed the clergy and lay delegates to look beyond the proposal itself, to its 

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implementation. The more they invested in that, the more the proposal was assured of 
passing. In the end, it was the section on the Governing Board, which was in the original 
SRT proposal, that passed by the widest margin. Clearly, that structure engendered the 
most positive response in terms of hope and trust. Once they knew who the candidates 
were, the delegates were impressed, and excited to see how their leadership could make a 
difference for MCC. 

We spent a good deal of time interviewing many applicants, and finally proposed 
a slate often from which they would choose eight. We could have selected just eight, but 
it was clear that the General Conference of MCC wanted to make a meaningful choice, 
and to feel like it had a real choice, and was not merely a rubber stamp. This was one of 
the many ways in which we wanted the "grassroots" of MCC to really put their 
fingerprints on this change, to make it theirs. 

One of the most controversial parts of the proposal was that MCC Elders, who 
had once been elected by the General Conference, and then by the Regional Conferences, 
would no longer be elected at all. In the new system, only the Moderator and this new 
Governing Board would be elected. As in a local church, the Elders, then, would be hired 
as Senior Staff, as with a few other key positions. I was not sure at all that the General 
Conference would relinquish the ability to elect Elders. But, the excitement about the 
proposal, the ability to elect the Moderator and the Governing Board, made letting go 
possible. It was a decision to trust the new leadership structure in a profound way. Had 
we not nominated a Governing Board in advance, I think the proposal about shifting the 
Elders election to appointment would have been tougher to pass, something I only really 

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understood in hindsight. That proposal also passed by a wide margin with almost no 
debate. 

I personally participated in every Governing Board candidate interview, and 
asked some of the tougher questions about including a new expectation of financial 
support for the denomination from each board member. 

The proposal passed overwhelmingly at Conference, and they elected eight new 
Governing Board members on the first ballot. The General Conference itself was superb, 
with great worship, teaching and wonderful opportunities for local churches and leaders 
to learn and grow together, a great context for a challenging business meeting. This was 
the first time we had gone three years without a Conference, and people were really 
happy to be altogether. The joy of being together made for a different quality of 
experience that moved us forward through the difficult issues. 

The other "context" for this decision-making was our new relationship with The 
Fellowship, an African American Pentecostal-leaning LGBT accepting church that is 
about ten years old, and has lots of deep connections to MCC. We had been working on 
connecting our leaders, and our movements over the last three years. At this conference 
they were present, visible, participating. We had an opening plenary talking about issues 
of race and church and our communities, myths and challenges, in an open way. We 
modeled a serious, even intimate at times, trust-building conversation at the opening 
plenary. This gave MCCer's a bigger picture of our impact on others. It named some of 
the fears and suspicions and awkwardness that come from daring to be in relationship 
cross-culturally. It named the benefits and joys as well. 

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One of the most moving, innovative expressions of this relationship was 
something Rev. Elder Darlene Garner suggested: structuring our business meeting like a 
worship service. Before we began critical votes on the proposal, and on elections, we 
invited leaders of The Fellowship to consecrate and serve us communion, in their "way," 
distributing the cup and wafer, and we all consumed at one time, emphasizing the unity 
of the Body of Christ. Many people were deeply touched by this gift. It pushed us to 
think about the global implications of what we decided as a denomination, and to think of 
our partners. We had many seminary and ecumenical guests as well. This was a reminder 
that we were accountable not only to ourselves, but to a network of partners, friends of 
faith, people who care about MCC, leadership, who want to trust us as well. 

After Conference, we invested in training the new Governing Board with the 
Alban institute board consultant within the first month after they were elected, having 
learned our lessons from earlier. The board leaned on the consultant, and internalized the 
idea of functioning as a "policy board," with global delegation to the Moderator for day 
to day operations. Our staff shared openly about serious concerns, financial, institutional, 
budgetary, and staffing. That also created a lot of trust at that first meeting. 

One of the first challenges of the board was to form an International Task Force to 
bring program and structure proposals to the next General Conference in 2013. Having 
learned a lot through the SRT process, we are well on our way, having learned about 
recruiting leadership, and using a thorough interview process to select candidates. 



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What Worked in this Process from the Principles of Trust: 

Our (now former) boards, practiced awareness of self-in-relation, and held in high 
value our relationships with each other and the SRT, and were faithful to the process. 

We used our power well and wisely. There were some who worried that we had 
given too much authority to the SRT, and that if we did not embrace their 
recommendations, there would be an undercurrent or a backlash. Taking the extra time 
and steps produced a better and unifying solution. 

The SRT recognized, that as mostly Americans (there was one person from 
Europe on their team) they were not equipped to deal with the looming questions of our 
global ministry. We know that we need to hear from those most affected, who have been 
on the margins of our power structure, and to include them in the next phase of decision- 
making. 

We took a reasonable risk in nominating a Governing Board slate ahead of time. 

We risked in reaching out to the Fellowship, and that relationship has enriched 
our leadership, and many of our churches, beyond measure. 

We engaged difficult truths about our history, and our structure, and our financial 
history and struggles to reign in expenses. 

We did not gloss over differences, but took the time to understand and hear each 
other, to engage difficult truths. 

We took some steps to interrupt some unhealthy habits of mis-trust that run deep 
in our church of deeply wounded people. This took a lot of patience and forbearance at 
times. 

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Once we had a unified plan, all parties honorably worked together to educate our 
voting delegates. All of this engendered more trust. 

Every group in this process, and every individual, had to let go. The Board of 
Administration gracefully let go of their fiduciary responsibility, in an easy and 
thoughtful transfer of power. The Elders let go of being a board at all, and re-invented 
themselves, with colleagues, as the Senior Leadership Team. They happily transferred 
some responsibilities and authority to the new Governing Board. Two Elders have taken 
overdue sabbaticals. The SRT also let go, completed its task and bowed out. One of them 
was a successful candidate for the Governing Board. 

We are just beginning to see the fruits of the shift in structure, and the benefits of 
having a unified board, with a balance of clergy and laity, women and men, and 
professional skills, all devoted to MCC, its mission and future. 
The Leadership Mentoring Retreat 

We held the first Leadership Mentoring Retreat in the midst of all these difficult 
challenges and changes. In fact, we were not even sure we were going to have the funds 
to do it, so we had to scramble to get the first one organized. It took place in the midst of 
the time we were going through the most difficult negotiations with the SRT on the new 
proposal, which meant it was a very demanding time for several of our faculty. 

We had sixty-two applications for eighteen spots. One had to drop out just before 
the retreat. We were overwhelmed with the response. This was a signal to me of a 
cultural shift happening in MCC, in which a lot of people were beginning to see the 
importance for themselves, and for the denomination, of leadership development. 

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For the first retreat, we asked people to pay their own transportation, and we 
invested in their room and board, and all our time. The faculty were investing their time 
as well, some of whom are staff, some of whom are volunteers. 

We want to mentor people who were already leaders in the local church, or who 
even had had some denominational experience, help them to identify their strengths and 
weaknesses as leaders, in the MCC global context. Future Moderators, Elders, staff, 
Governing Board members or denominational volunteers, we hoped, would come from 
this experience. I used this opportunity to take them into my confidence, and shared very 
frankly my own views about how the present structure was undermining our progress, 
and what I hoped for in the new structure going forward. I shared some of the "brutal 
facts," the stresses MCC and our leaders were facing. This opened things up and 
encouraged them to take risks as well. As I trusted them, they trusted more, it was clear. 

Our faculty included, besides myself: a partially retired white Elder who had 
served in MCC leadership for decades, who has expertise around leadership and church 
growth; a white, male lay Leader who has a corporate background in leadership training 
and development with IBM and ecumenical experience; an African American clergy 
colleague who has considerable cross-cultural experience, VISIONS training, and MCC 
staff history in leadership development; and a young Latina, successful church planter, 
who has special expertise in the uses of technology. 

Each faculty member developed modules, and shared them with the others, and 
we critiqued each other's work. We experimented with a small group format, seeing if we 



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could have them do significant work in the groups, building trust, in the hopes that they 
would continue after the retreat. 

Over the year since that first retreat, each of the persons in that retreat has 
exercised leadership in some new ways. For some, that has been mostly local, but for 
others it has been in the wider denomination. 

In the second Leadership Mentoring Retreat, held in January 201 1, we made three 
significant changes. We invited Dr. Mona West, now our senior staff leader for our 
Office of Formation and Leadership Development to join our faculty. She really 
improved our Spiritual Disciplines for Transformational Leaders module, and we put that 
right up front this time. That made a huge impression on the participants. It also put the 
other leadership modules and my piece on the denomination, in a different light. 

Secondly, this time, we spent more of the time in the Justice and Diversity 
modules using the VISIONS materials. This was also well-received, and opened up a lot 
of discussion in small groups. It really reflects the core values of MCC, and has to be 
integrated into any leadership training. 

Third, we also modified the expectations and process, so that everyone knew 
coming in that they were to have a "product" at the end of the retreat: a goal or two, and 
make a commitment to be accountable to their small group for their ongoing leadership 
development. We offered a workbook, which included a short journal-like question page 
at the conclusion of each module that could help them sort out options for the final page, 
which was for their specific goals and commitments. 



See addendum A on Feedback from the Leadership Mentoring Retreat 2010. 
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The small groups were the place people shared their goals and commitment, and 
the two faculty members assigned to each group will meet with that group three or four 
times in the next year. This time, by being clear about expectations, and having an easy to 
follow process, everyone was able to set goals, and the circles of trust are more likely to 
be places that people can go to for accountability and support. 

This time we also invited two of the participants to work with the faculty to lead 
worship. Worship is simple at the retreat, but the two participant musicians really added 
so much to the experience. 

In addition, my presentation also changed dramatically. This year, we were not in 
an organizational turning point, as in 2010; rather we are on the other side of that process. 
I talked about the ways in which we were implementing the new structure; and, how we 
were using our new-found learning around church size theory to restructure our top 
leadership and staff. I shared things we have only shared with the leadership, so it had an 
"insider" feel. 

Also, in this time, in my presentation, I shared that our staff had come to deep 
conviction about our lack of a church planting strategy in the US and Canada. I shared 
our thoughts about why church planting had slowed, and what we were doing to re-invent 
that process. In our group of participants was a new church planter, who just successfully 
planted a "pastor-sized" church in Florida. 

This group focused a lot more on their spiritual practices, and their commitment 
to ongoing leadership education and development for themselves. Some had a specific 



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project they were interested in initiating for MCC as well. This group seemed much more 
impacted by the call to self-awareness, and to lead a balanced and undivided life. 

It occurs to me that most people in MCC, who are LGBT, have had to go through 
a coming out process, which involves a great deal of self-searching. However, that can 
create a false sense that we have "done" self- awareness. There was a hunger in this 
group for taking their journey to the next level, to really engage the next chapter of their 
lives, and connecting it to their leadership in MCC. Time to focus on themselves was 
such a gift, and was seen as a luxury, rather than as an expectation of being in ministry or 
leadership. In addition, this kind of "enrichment," is a rather middle-class concept, that is 
harder for people from a working class background, even if they have a middle-class 
education, to grasp and embrace. 

Content of the Leadership Mentoring Retreat and Connection to Principles of Trust 
The Leadership Mentoring Retreat begins, months in advance, with a reading list, a 
key text and "pre-reads," mostly on leadership development in a church context. 

We arrive on Monday afternoon, the faculty gathers for lunch, reviews the 
program, makes sure we have all our materials, and checks in. 

Sometimes we have local church folks from the area help with transportation, or 
with food for an opening gathering. We gather in the afternoon, and I give a short 
opening address, which thanks them for investing their time and money in this 
experience, that it is a gift to the denomination, and, hopefully, to themselves. I make 
some observations about MCC today. I and one of them presents the workbook, shares 



28 

See Leadership Mentoring Retreat 201 1 schedule in addendum B 
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the expectation that they will have a "product" at the end of the retreat, and an 
accountability process for the next year to follow. 

We then invite each person to share who they are, and why they applied to be 
here. Each time, this has been very moving. Some are surprised they were chosen, some 
are not even sure why they are here. Some of these folks know each other, others no 
almost no one at the retreat. Then we have our first module on spiritual formation of 
leaders, and a brief small group interaction, just to introduce the small groups. At dinner, 
they sit in their small groups, with two faculty advisors, and share the story of one 
trustworthy leader who had an influence on them, and why. 

We gather again, and see a clip from the movie "Call Me Troy," about the 
founding of MCC, which is always emotional. Then Rev. Elder Don Eastman, a pioneer 
MCC leader, and expert on leadership, shares from his heart about leadership in MCC. 

The next two days, we begin with worship, and hear lectures and discussion on 
spiritual formation, leadership development, and leadership styles. I also make a 
presentation on "MCC as a Denomination and Movement." I offer my perspective on 
MCC as a denomination, our history, our ecclesiology, our identity. I ask them to think 
about the assimilationist and queer impulses in MCC, and how they position themselves 
in that polarity. Each of these modules includes time for discussion in the whole group, 
and small group work. 

We also have modules on the VISIONS work, on technology and "generational 
shifts," on using technology in our global work and church planting work. This brings a 



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lot of energy and excitement. We also have a module on stewardship as a component of 
leadership. 

On the next to last day, we end the afternoon with a time of walking the 
Labyrinth, giving extra time for individual prayer, walking meditation, and writing. 

At dinner one evening, we invited Governing Board members who live nearby to 
join us and share with this retreat about their new ministry. This did not turn out as I had 
hoped. It was kind of flat. I have since realized that we had really failed to prepare them 
for this group, and had asked them the wrong questions! The purpose for inviting them 
was not to fill them in on the work of the board, to hear how it is going, and ask 
questions, in an accountability way, or to act as a listening post for constituents. What 
we should have done was to ask the Board members to reflect on their own journeys, 
their own spiritual practices, sharing what sustains them in leadership. That would have 
really been a more relevant and important discussion. Next time! 

One evening, after dinner, Rev. Elder Don Eastman and I shared "war stories," 
from the first decade or two of MCC, telling Troy Perry stories, or stories about 
ourselves. People love this time. Most of these leaders were not in MCC in the 1970's or 
even the 1980's. We share early folklore and even outrageous, queer stories that they 
have never heard. They are stories of courage, humor, humanness and vulnerability. We 
display our affection for each other, and for MCC's early characters and founder. It is an 
"insider" experience. 

We close on Thursday with a significant time in small groups, finalizing each 
person's goal or goals and commitments for the upcoming year. Then we have a 

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"covenanting," a Taize-style worship service, including communion. We share a final 
meal together and depart. 

The faculty is very conscious of being open, and sharing ourselves, as learners 
who are leaders. We share not just from their strengths and successes, but from our 
weaknesses and failures. The generosity and openness of the faculty is key to building 
trust. This is a chance to see leaders and mentors as human beings. This kind of 
intimacy also engenders trust. We are not above them, different from them, superior to 
them. 

I think the VISIONS material also really pushes the participants to do more work 
on appreciating differences and pushing the envelope. It may be easy for MCCers to feel 
"accomplished" about embracing diversity, when we are not. Everyone was challenged 
by this material. 

There are people who come to the retreat in some kind of crisis -vocationally, or 
personally. It is important for the retreat to be a safe space for everything that comes up. 
For some, it has been a doorway to healing, hope and a renewed sense of purpose and 
call. For others, it is confirmation of something they have known all their lives, and are 
getting ready to step into. 
Conclusion 

I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to create the Leadership Mentoring 
Retreat as a work in progress, as one of a number of opportunities in MCC to train and 
encourage new leaders, and to grow in my own understanding of what it means to be a 
trustworthy leader. I am encouraged by the ways in which our new structure reflects and 

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supports a culture shift in the transition from our founder, and the new competencies we 
are gaining as a trustworthy organization. 



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CONCLUSION 

This project has been enormously challenging and fruitful. I am grateful to have 

taken some extra time to allow for a second Leadership Mentoring Retreat and to be able 
to compare and improve on the experience. 

My own learning about leadership impacts me every day, now, as I lead in the new 
MCC system. There is not a day that goes by that I do not use the information I absorbed 
and the principles I discerned in developing leaders in MCC. I am more conscious of the 
need to mentor younger, upcoming leaders, and to invest my time and energy in them. 

And, now, everywhere I go, whatever I read, events in the world and in the church 
all speak to me of the tremendous need for developing trustworthy leaders in MCC, in the 
church and in the world. This is the world of the rest of my life, I am aware, and it is all 
around me. 

As the President of Egypt was resigning, a crisis was created due to the lack of 
succession planning was painful. The new ways in which leadership is defined by 
movements, in groups, and not just in one charismatic leader is a generational shift. The 
joyous thing and the frightening thing about changes in Egypt and the Arab world is that 
there are not necessarily obvious successors to these long-time, oppressive, post-colonial 
leaders (who still act like they are the colonizers). At the same time, so many young 
leaders worked together for years, cooperatively, undercover, with enormous energy, 
creativity and at great risk to themselves to overthrow these oppressive regimes. Surely, 
there is enough leadership there to create a body politic and an economy that is more 
democratic and just. 



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These events have made me think about what is means for me to have turned 60, 
and to know that I will be retiring in less than six years. The sentence in the Leadership 
Covenant, "Believe that 'anything worth doing takes more than a lifetime to 
achieve;' strengthen our movement by giving away our leadership, mentoring 
others and letting go when it is time," was me preaching to myself. 

Fortunately, my predecessor, Rev. Troy Perry, was incredibly gracious about 
letting go, and supporting me completely as I became Moderator of MCC. I have a great 
role model in that, and hope I can live up to his example. I am starting to let myself 
imagine life after being the Moderator of MCC. How will my vocation re-shape itself? 
What will the Holy Spirit talk me into? What adventures await, in mentoring more 
leaders, in pioneering something new. 

I wanted to conclude my study of trust, and the story of the development of the 
Leadership Mentoring Retreat for MCC, with a gift to our denomination and our 
emerging leaders. 

At first, I had the idea of working on a baptismal covenant for MCC, since we do 
not have one, and we claim baptism as one of our two sacraments. However, I know this 
is on the agenda of our Theologies Team, and think their collaborative, conversational 
process would be better than for one person to write it, since I am no Thomas Cranmer! 

I wrote this Leadership Covenant a couple of months ago, and then invited alumni 
from both Leadership Mentoring Retreats, our faculty, and our Senior Leadership Team, 
to comment on it, offer feedback or improvements. 



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Truthfully, I wish it were shorter and less wordy. Several folks approached it from 
an editing standpoint, and made excellent grammatical and other improvements. Some 
offered questions for clarification, others submitted a sentence or even a paragraph that 
they thought was missing. No one offered to make it even as short as the Decalogue. 

I appreciated the thoughtfulness, and thoroughness of the responses, and would 
expect nothing less from this group. 
Uses of the Covenant: 

My hope is that this is a covenant that can be owned and used by the Leadership 
Mentoring Retreat, expressive of the values of trustworthy leadership in our context. I 
hope it can also be used by our boards and professional staff. It would be excellent to 
create a study guide that could accompany the covenant. It could also be shared in other 
leadership training events — at Network gatherings, Readiness to Enter Vocational 
Ministry retreats (our clergy entry process); for our new L.E.A.D program (our first lay- 
developed certification program, that will be launched this year), and other 
denominational opportunities. 

It would be good to see if churches could adopt or adapt this for their leadership. I 
have already heard of one large MCC church that is planning to use our Leadership 
Mentoring Retreat model in their local church, using much of the materials we use. 



126 



It could also be used liturgically, perhaps even antiphonally, in denominational or 
local church worship. It would probably need to be adapted or shortened for that to work. 
And, of course, Marsha Stevens could make it rhyme and set it to music! l 
The Leadership Covenant: 

This covenant expresses the faith, values, spiritual practices and key behaviors that 
we believe are essential for leaders in MCC. It is stated in positive language that lifts up 
our ideals for leaders, rather than focusing on the negative. Yet, it does not avoid difficult 
issues, but names them. 

The wording includes important faith language, but also includes insights from the 
social sciences and psychology. 

It has been suggested we write a longer preamble, to share the history and 
background of the covenant, and we may go ahead and do that in time for the next 
Leadership Mentoring Retreat. 

A Leadership Covenant for Metropolitan Community Churches 

Metropolitan Community Church's global mission is to "tear down walls and build 
up hope!" As servant leaders in MCC, we promise to: 

Reaffirm daily the primary importance of our relationship to God, as disciples of Jesus; 
our open-hearted relationship to God, our Divine Friend, with trust at the heart of our 
service. 

Accept in faith the love of God as something real and redemptive, which can change lives 
and the world. We will challenge the untrustworthy theologies and doctrines about God 
that oppress and undermine the self- worth of our communities. 



Marsha Stevens is the author of the famous hymn, "For Those Tears I Died," and is now a member of 
MCC. She is fond of saying that she takes my sermons and makes them rhyme. Marsha has written MCC 
General Conference theme songs for decades, and has a wonderful ministry (B.A.L.M., "Born Again 
Lesbian Ministry") that includes mentoring young artists. 

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Live in union with Jesus, and become more self-aware. We will be attentive to the 
dynamics of oppression in ourselves, in the church and the world. 

Create lives and churches that matter! 

Foster relationships and friendships based on mutuality, justice, and respect for the 
integrity of others and for all creation. Learn to appreciate differences rather than gloss 
over them. 

Be willing to take risks for the sake of the gospel, for the love of God, or for the sake of 
another, for justice and peace. 

Recognize that fear and false teaching about sexuality, healthy sexual expression and 
spiritual wholeness connected to sexuality causes harm. It is the foundation of abuse and 
cruelty to women, sexual minorities and people of variant gender identity. We will 
continue to embody a broader understanding of the gift of sexuality as God intended. 

Be willing to question authority, and hear our own authority questioned. 

Be willing to know, tell and receive truth; and to believe the best about others and their 
motives. Be accountable, and take responsibility for our words and choices, and 
corrective action when appropriate. 

Avoid covering up faults and failures, or make excuses for poor behavior, rather ask for 
forgiveness and offer it as often as necessary; accept that people can grow and change, 
including us. 

Become willing to participate in healing and restoring damaged relationships when 
possible. Commit to a process of constant reconciliation with the Body of Christ, 
regardless of past pain, hurt or disappointment. 

Speak well of our colleagues, our co-leaders in our denomination/movement, supporting 
the purposes and core values of Metropolitan Community Churches as affirmed by our 
General Conference. 

Pray for the wisdom, as leaders, to handle the authority and responsibilities we have been 
given with gentleness and grace, never abuse that power for our own gain. 

Believe that "anything worth doing takes more than one lifetime to achieve," strengthen 
our movement by giving away our leadership, mentoring others, letting go when it is 
time. 



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Take the time and responsibility for living a grateful, balanced, healthy and undivided 
life; and to enjoy the fruit of trustworthy relationships with God, our intimate circle, the 
church, the wider community and all of creation. 



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ADDENDUM A 

COMMENTS FROM MEMBERS OF THE 2010 

LEADERSHIP MENTORING RETREAT 

"I had the honor of being a part of the first annual 2010 Leadership Mentoring Retreat 
Program. . .The program was attended by a diverse group of people from around the 
globe. We explored models of leadership that gave us insight to our leadership style and 
offered us the opportunity to both affirm and shift our own models as we advance 
individual leadership." Rev. NGT. 

"The Leadership Mentoring Retreat was an incredibly valuable experience for me. 
Having this focused time allowed me to reflect critically about my own leadership 
practices and to identify some practical areas of growth and development. And, time 
spent laughing, praying, and dreaming with MCC friends and colleagues is always soul- 
nurturing." Rev. K.A. 

"The Leadership Mentoring Retreat provided me not only with the insights and tools to 
improve my leadership skills, but also clearly delineated the vision of UFMCC's future 
across the globe for the next six years. If you want to increase your own leadership 
abilities and nurture a strong connection to the world-wide network of leaders in 
UFMCC, this Retreat is for you." NGM 

"It quickly became apparent that this would be some of the best, highest quality time I 
could spend for myself, my professional and personal development, and for my ministry. 
The content was excellent, with some of the best instructors I have ever experienced. . ..I 
came away with renewed commitment to, my role in the worldwide ministry of 
MCC. . ..There were several concrete ways I could see myself furthering the mission of 
MCC to reach out, to come together, to tear down walls, to build up hope." 
Rev. L.H. 

"The Leadership Retreat was amazing. It was the first time I was able to meet some of 
our leaders of MCC and experience the whole denomination of MCC. I left this retreat, 
knowing that God has provided me with a spiritual journey and with the help of my MCC 
leaders I can continue that journey. The friendships that were built with my retreat 
family, continue today. We are working together in Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, 
California, Chicago, Virginia, Florida, Washington DC and overseas to continue to 
TEAR DOWN WALLS AND BUILD UP HOPE. " K.M. 



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"I was excited to be a part of faculty for the first MCC Leadership Mentoring Retreat 
held in early 2010. . ..In depth general leadership training is so important for building the 
future leaders of our denomination. . ..The attendees where very engaged and serious 
about absorbing as much as they could to grow in their call to MCC leadership." S.C.K. 

"As the one who travelled the longest way to get to the leadership mentoring retreat I 
want to say it was worth every single mile. . ..We worked deeply with questions about 
leadership and challenges we are facing as leaders. We worked in different settings as a 
larger group and in small groups. It was a gift to hear the stories of others in a very open 
and frank atmosphere" J.G. (Germany) 

"The Leadership Mentoring Retreat has provided me with a network of support and 
friendship that enriches me on almost a daily basis. Through the LMR I formed a bond 
with 21 individuals from the US, the Dominican Republic, and Europe. . ..The LMR has 
given me the "wind beneath my wings" and I will be forever grateful." N.M. 

"The Leadership Mentoring Retreat helped me establish a better framework for my 
service at the denominational level. Last year, I had a lot of concerns about putting 
together a volunteer program for the denomination's first General Conference in a non- 
English speaking country.... The Retreat introduced me to organizational methods, 
spiritual disciplines, and friends and colleagues in ministry that allowed me to execute 
what I thought was a pretty good Volunteer Program. . .(and) helped me develop methods 
of linking global mission and local service, methods that I'm using as a newly elected 
member of the Board of my local church. . ..I certainly I made friendships that will last a 
lifetime." K.M. 

"The LMR was a profound and transformative experience for me. While I had begun my 
ordination process, I was not entirely convinced or confident that UFMCC would be the 
best fit for my gifts and ministry. However. . .1 soon discovered that UFMCC was indeed 
for me, where I am inspired to bear witness to God's extravagant love to those at the 
margins. Further, I met other talented and gifted MCC'ers who invited me to imagine 
new possibilities for ministry when resources are limited and local circumstances are not 
ideal. . ..Since the LMR, I am excited about our future and all of the good work the 
denomination will do. The faculty was generous and knowledgeable. . ..They explored 
and reinforced with us principles such as shared ministry, servant leadership, global 
service, and financial and social justice stewardship, critical principles by which to build 
effective, disciplined local MCC churches and global partnerships that are dynamic and 
innovative." D.D. 

"Blessings to all of you. . . .1 returned yesterday from China. . . .1 am so thankful for the 
blessing of attending the 2010 LMR which has inspired me to continue my journey 
toward ordination in MCC. I enjoyed seeing our 2010 LMR cohort again at MCC's 



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Conference and while there, took the training program for Creating a Life that Matters. I 
was blessed to participate in REVM this past November. God's radical love is palpable at 
MCC's conferences, but at LMR the stories shared, the time together and the witness of 
the Spirit's work in our churches, leadership and members was transformative and a 
blessing for me." B.J. 



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ADDENDUM B 

LEADERSHIP MENTORING RETREAT 

METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CHURCHES 

JANUARY 17-20, 2011 

DAYSPRING EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE CENTER 

Purpose: 

To encourage, train and cultivate a new generation of trustworthy Metropolitan 
Community Church leaders with a bold commitment to the local and global ministry of 
MCC, offer an "insider view" of contemporary MCC, and a critical context for MCC 
ministry in the 2 1 st century. 

Goals: 

1 . To build an intentional, spiritual community together this week, and 

2. For each person to leave with a plan to grow in spiritual leadership capacity in 
order to be of service to MCC globally, with a new cohort of continuous leaders. 

Daily Schedule 



MONDAY, JAN 17 

3:00 PM -4:00 PM 


Getting to Know You and 
Setting the Tone 


Rev. Nancy Wilson 


4:00 PM -4:30 PM 


Housekeeping, Introductions and 
Small Group Assignments* 


Rev. Robert Griffin, 
Retreat Chaplain 


4:30 PM -4:40 PM 


Break 




4:40 PM - 6:00 PM 


Module 1 , Part 1 "Living an 
Undivided Life as a Spiritual 
Leader" 


Rev. Mona West 


6:00 PM 


Dinner with your small group - 
introductions 




7:00 PM 


Clips from Call Me Troy and 

reflections on Leadership in 
MCC 


Rev. Don Eastman 



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*Individuals will remain in their group throughout the retreat, and the groups will meet 
together at some point during each module. 



WEDNESDAY, JAN 19 

7:30 AM -8:00 AM 


Devotion 


Stan Kimer 


8:00 AM -9:00 AM 


Breakfast 




9:00 AM- 11:00 AM 


Module 4 -The Church and 
Technology 


Rev. Tania Guzman 


11:00 AM- 11:15 AM 


Break 




11:15 AM -12:00 Noon 


Module 5 - Justice and Peace 
(Introduction) 


Rev. Robert Griffin 


NOON 


Lunch 




1:00 PM -2:30 PM 


Module 5 - Justice and Peace 
(Continued) 


Rev. Robert Griffin 


2:30 PM -2:45 PM 


Break 




2:45 PM -4: 15 PM 


Module 6, Part 1 - Becoming 
Trustworthy Leaders 
(Developing Your Leadership 
Style / Stewards of your Gifts 
and Call) 


Rev. Don Eastman and 
Stan Kimer 


4:15 PM -4:30 PM 


Break 




4:30 PM -5:45 PM 


Module 6, Part 2 - Personal and 
Leadership Labyrinth 


Rev. Mona West 


6:00 PM 


Dinner with Small Group 




7:00 PM 


Time with Don and Nancy - 
Stories! 

Singing and Closing Prayers 





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Work on Leadership Plan, 
individually 




THURSDAY, JAN 20 

7:30 AM -8:00 AM 


Devotion 


Rev. Robert Griffin 


8:00 AM -9:00 AM 


Breakfast 




9:00 AM -10:15 AM 


Module 7 - Creating your 
Leadership Development Plan 
with your Cohort 


Rev. Nancy Wilson 


10:15 AM -11:00 AM 


Evaluation and Break 




11 :00 AM -NOON 


Covenanting Worship and 
Communion 





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Shorto, Russell. "The Irish Affliction." The New York Times Magazine, February 13, 
2011. 



Lectures Presented at Meetings: 

Knight, D. Hansen, Larry L. Cummings, Norman Chevary. "Trust Formation in New 
Organizational Relationships." Paper presented at Information and Decision 
Sciences Workshop for the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, October 
1995. 



Recordings: 

"Faith as Trust, " a sermon by Reinhold Niebuhr, cassett No. 3016, EDS Library. 
Preached in 1961 at Union Theological Seminary in New York. 



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